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How to Build a Playground in Six Hours

July 24, 2014 posted by Emily Brandenstein

In case you’re looking for something to do on a Thursday afternoon, here’s how to build a playground in half a day:

First, you’ll need two elephants worth of concrete, 50 yards of soil and compost, 185 yards of mulch, and a strong, willing workforce. Seems like a big undertaking, right? Not if you’re one of 71 Flyers (what we call our employees) working from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. alongside 200 other community volunteers from St. Stephens Terrace Apartments.

With the help of the national non-profit organization KaBOOM!, we helped build a 110-by-34-foot playground at St. Stephens, located on Chicago’s West side. KaBOOM! is dedicated to creating safe, fun play spaces for children across America. As our Chief Wagon Officer Robert Pasin said, “At Radio Flyer, everything we do is about outdoor, active play, so it makes perfect sense for us to partner with Kaboom to create play spaces in areas that need them.”  

This is our fifth build-partnership with KaBoom!—and we’re not done yet! Back in 2010, our first KaBoom! build was at a school for special needs children in Lisle, Ill. In the two following years, we built at St. Angela’s school on the west side of Chicago and at UNO charter school, which neighbors our Chicago headquarters.

Despite our build experience from the past years, you’re probably still wondering how exactly is it possible to assemble a playground in six hours? Well, we started the day by dividing the three hundred volunteers into build teams assigned to the following tasks: mulch-hauling, cement-mixing, playground structure-assembly, flower-planting, painting, and so much more. From there, each team works hard to accomplish their task, and once finished, pitch in on other jobs still in progress. Towards the end of the build, everyone ends up hauling mulch into the playground because it takes the longest of all jobs—and is pretty back-breaking!

The day goes by quickly with the amount of fun we have working together to build something that will soon be an active outlet for children to imagine, laugh, and play. Lesley, one of the head build coordinators from Radio Flyer explained her KaBoom! experience: “I grew up with safe play spaces and I often take that for granted. It gave me goosebumps when I saw the kids eyes light up as they watched the playground come to life.” 

  • The before picture of the playground
  • Our Radio Flyer Project Leaders for the 2014 KaBOOM! build
  • The Build Captains for all of the projects
  • Mulch movers
  • We painted a United States map near the playground
  • Concrete mixers
  • We built planter boxes for flowers to go around the playspace
  • You can't have a playground without swings!
  • The little ones paraded around their new and safe playground
  • We did it!

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