Volunteers in Brooklyn gave their time, vision and money to help create an urban play yard for children in Williamsburg on Thursday. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
Preschoolers in Williamsburg watched as the wheelbarrows brought in supplies for a new playground. About 200 workers, many of them volunteers, spent Thursday erecting, transporting and planting in the lot next to Nuestros Ninos Child Development Center in Williamsburg.
"We're working. We're getting our fingers dirty. Excuse the attire, but we're making sure that we're giving back," said City Councilwoman Diana Reyna.
Nuestros Ninos needed a new outdoor space for its more than 200 children, because their old playground fell into disrepair. So it reached out to Let's Play, a program created by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and the non-profit organization Kaboom, which builds play areas nationwide.
They teamed up with the city group GrowNYC and the community to raise the funds, design the space and get it constructed. The day care did its part by raising some $10,000 by selling children's artwork and cooking food.
"From turkey sandwiches to pernil sandwiches to arroz [rice] and gandules [beans] and chicken, empanadillas [small stuffed pastries]," said Nuestros Ninos Executive Director Miriam Cruz.
The Nuestros Ninos playground is the first project for Let's Play, part of a $15 million initiative to replicate the Brooklyn model across the country.
"This is first one of the 2,000 that will be built in the next three years," said Kaboom founder Darrel Hammond.
"We want to promote active lifestyles. We want to get kids back outside playing with their families," said Tina Barry of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group.
Those from the area say it is much needed.
"It's a way to green our community. It's a way to provide recreational facilities for a community that is lacking," said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
Onlooking children talked about their plans for the space, and some even sang a song of thanks.
"On the slide I'm going to play," said one child.
It will take a couple of days for the concrete to set, and the playground will be open to the children on Monday.