It was a tough day to concentrate for students at West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School. Music blared from speakers on the school’s front lawn, accompanied by a chorus of hammers and power tools. The school was finally getting a playground.
The construction crew was made up of parents, neighbors, school employees, and a large contingent from software company SAP in Newtown Square, which financed the playground raising. The event was organized by KaBOOM, a non-profit dedicated to correcting what it calls the nation’s “play deficit.” KaBOOM organizer Ted Friedman kept the volunteers moving quickly from task to task. Workers lunched in shifts on a hill overlooking the hubbub. Six hours after they began, a patch of dirt had been transformed into a children’s paradise.
On a blocked-off segment of Callowhill Street, a team laid out bright red and yellow pieces for a play set called a Superdome. At the moment it resembled a giant metal Tinker Toy set.
“This is like Christmas morning,” quipped one volunteer as he consulted a color-coded diagram.
Nearby, SAP employee Lynn Baboujian worked with her daughter, Lori, and co-worker Ed Satchell to assemble a wooden bench. There was no confusion here. This is the tenth playground they have built and they work together quickly and efficiently.
“The best part is when you see the kids come out,” said Baboujian. “The looks on their faces makes it all worth while.”