Volunteers transform playground for Richmond students
on September 22, 2013
About two dozen volunteers needed just a few hours under the afternoon sun to transform a drab stretch of asphalt into a colorful play area for students at Grant Elementary School in Richmond.
“There is no color out here and kids gravitate towards color, so adding a little makes a huge difference,” said Benjamin Stein, program director of Playworks Northern California-San Francisco office.
Volunteers from Playworks, a non-profit that works to increase play areas in schools, and medical insurance provider UnitedHealthCare gathered at Grant Thursday and splashed color on the school’s asphalt recess area, using bright paints to draw game-boundaries, a soccer field and a multipurpose four-square.
Along with the free labor, UnitedHealthCare chipped in $5,000 for the paints and other materials.
Steve Cain, vice president of the health group’s California branch, said the public service partnership with Playworks aims to increase student activity in Richmond, where more than 50-percent of children are clinically obese.
“Getting kids active early helps them have a healthy life and we have to give them a place to be active,” Cain said.
The improved play area gives Grant’s nearly 600 students a more organized and aesthetically appealing play area by sectioning off areas of the blacktop and providing more functional use of the space. Teachers and volunteers say they hope the vibrant colors distract the students from the lack of grass fields on school grounds.
Playworks has partnered with 14 schools in West Contra Costa County, providing coaches at each location to improve recess recreation opportunities.
Third grade teacher Dan MacDonald said he was happy to see improvement in the recess area, but hopes it won’t stop there.
“The lack of greenery out there is horrible, but the school’s gotten a grant for a garden and the principal plans to get some picnic tables,” MacDonald said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Grant Elementary School is located in the Iron Triangle. In fact, it is located in the North and East Neighborhood.
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