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How To Build A Playground In Half A Day

Posted Apr 4, 2014

In only six hours, more than 200 volunteers from the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and its partners built a playground in Southeast D.C.

- PHOTO GALLERY: Redskins playground build (April 14, 2014)

With a few final twists on an Allen wrench, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his wife, Tanya Snyder, helped secure the sign in place.

“Welcome to your play space,” the marker read, greeting visitors at the entrance of a playground that had been just a flat, muddy square rectangle full of holes six hours earlier.

More than 200 volunteers reported for work at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning to build a safe, fun place for children at the 1500 block of the Cedar Heights community in Southeast Washington, D.C.  

By 2:30 p.m. the crew had mixed 10 tons of concrete, laid down 165 cubic yards of mulch and filled the area with amenities including swings, a jungle gym, a mini amphitheater and a fire truck fort resting on four giant springs. The whine of drills, the scratch of sandpaper and the thud of hammers on wood rang through the neighborhood throughout the day.

“This means so much to us,” Dan Snyder said at the ribbon cutting. “This is what it’s all about.”

Representatives from the Washington Redskins, the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, Clark Construction Group, the Community Preservation and Development Corporation and KaBOOM! joined forces to complete the build.

Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien, Dion Foxx, Dan Ryzcek, Roy Jefferson and Ken Jenkins represented the Redskins alumni.

Tight end Niles Paul planted a football-themed flag at the top of the jungle gym while Rypien and others delivered wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of mulch to pad the ground.

“As alumni we can come back just stone’s throw away from RFK Stadium to recall the memories and the great things that we did here in the Washington, D.C., area during our playing days and to come back and give back to our community,” Rypien said.

“This gives all kids the chance to be a kid… You see something like this, and it just brings you back to when we were in our youth and had the opportunity to be on the playground.”

Jefferson, a 70-year old former wide receiver known as “Sweet Pea,” said he volunteered his time to instill a sense of service into the children who will enjoy the playground.

“You want to be able to give to the young people so they have something to be thankful for,” he said. “Maybe they will take that to heart when get older, too.”

Taking part in the construction made the 24-year old Paul feel mature.

He installed a swing, posed for pictures and held court with a little boy in a Chris Cooley jersey.

“I feel like a man today,” Paul said. “I feel like my dad.”

In order to qualify for the playground, Cedar Heights had to petition signatures from within the community, recruit half of the volunteers and present plans for safety and maintenance. Once the community raised $8,500 for the build, the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and its partners contributed $85,000.

KaBOOM! – a national nonprofit dedicated to saving play for America’s children – on Friday completed its 2,423rd playground build.

CPDC owns the property composed of 134 units housing hundreds of children. Mike Pitchford, the corporation’s president and CEO, wore overalls for his morning address to the volunteers.

He implored the group to have fun and take pride in the impact of their contributions.

“Maybe one of the kids using this playground will become a Washington Redskin,” he said.