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Brookland gets new playground for charter students and public

Volunteers build a Kaboom! playground in Eckington, which will be similar to Brookland's build

Children in Brookland will be able to play on a new playground at the Mary McLeod Bethune Day Academy come May 15. The new playground is replacing an old playset that had been on school grounds for over 25 years, says Linda McKay, the school’s executive director.

“We’re really excited about the work being done by our stakeholders, staff, and parents,” says McKay. “We’re definitely excited for a safe place to play for our students.” During non-school hours and days, the playground will also be open to the public.

Children were playing on the older playset at the public charter school; however, parts of the equipment were so unsafe it was off-limits and patches of the matting below the playground were missing. The community and students had been in dire need of a functional, safe playground that wasn’t an eyesore, says McKay, but first the school had to determine if the playset was even theirs or if the U.S. Department of Parks and Recreation was responsible for its upkeep—as many D.C. school playgrounds are. After determining the playset belonged to the school and not the DPR, McKay applied to KaBOOM! and was selected.

is a national nonprofit that helps communities and schools design, find sponsors for and fundraise to create safe and new playgrounds. Bethune got their students together and asked them to draw what they envisioned a great playground to look like. KaBOOM! then helped turn those designs into functional plans for a new playset and paired the Bethune school with a sponsor, the J. Williard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. The Marriott foundation is donating about 230 volunteers to help build the playground, which is appropriate for children from three to 14 years old, says McKay.

The school also worked with KaBOOM! to help fundraise in the community. The older playground was removed a couple of weeks ago and the new one is ready to be built in just one more week.

Prep day for the big playground Build Day is on Monday, May 13. The volunteers will lay sod and get all the materials prepared for Build Day, Wednesday, May 15. On Build Day, volunteers will arrive at 6:30 a.m. and build the playground in one day, until 3 p.m. when the ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place.  

"We’re really excited and appreciative for all the help that KaBOOM! and Marriott Corporation, our parents, and students and staff and everyone who has helped in the community," says McKay.

Along with the new playground and new flooring, students and children in the community can enjoy two new basketball courts that are fully repaved, a new green space and a community garden. 

If you or someone you know would like to donate or help volunteer building the playground, visit http://www.mmbethunepcs.org for more information.

Read more articles by Lisa Spinelli.

Lisa Spinelli is Elevation DC's development editor as well as a freelance journalist, copy editor and mother of two. After receiving her Master of Science in print journalism from Columbia University in 2004, Lisa worked across the country and in Italy as a journalist, editor and Web editor. Her website LisaSpinelli.com has links to a smattering of her published clips.
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