ARLINGTON, Va. – So Kids Can founders Mike Green and Elliot Segal from the Elliot in the Morning show and So Kids Can supporters Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich joined more than 200 volunteers from the Washington Capitals and the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA), organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the local community on Thursday, Sept. 13, to build the S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria.
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The new playground’s design was based on drawings created by community children who participated in a design day in August. The new structure replaced outdated equipment, is handicap accessible and will provide hundreds of youth in the Alexandria community with a safe place to play.
Volunteers including Backstrom, Green, Laich and Segal completed the build in six hours, including moving 100 cubic yards of mulch, mixing more than 16,000 pounds of concrete, painting games on the sidewalk and building cubbies for the Ruby Tucker Center in Alexandria.
“I hope the kids enjoy the new playground,” said Laich. “It’s been great to see it come to life. It’s going to be around a long time and kids are going to have a riot on it.”
The new playground includes both physical and educational play elements. Features include a spiral slide, vertical climber, rock wall, geo dome, number sequencing panel and checkers station. In addition to other tasks, participants also worked on side projects including building picnic tables, benches and planters to create a unique family space.
“The volunteers worked so hard that we were able to finish early and accomplish even more than we'd planned,” said Kathryn Lusk, KaBOOM! senior project manager. “This project proved to the kids living in the neighborhood and their parents that they can transform their environment with hard work, cooperation and dedication to a vision of a better space for families.”
Alexandria City Mayor William D. Eullie, Vice Mayor Kerry Donley, Councilman Frank Fannon, Councilwoman Alicia Hughes, Councilwoman Del Pepper, Delegate Rob Krupicka, City Manager Rashad Young, Police Chief Earl Cook, Fire Chief Adam Thiel and Sheriff Dana Lawhorne also participated in the build kickoff and ribbon cutting.
The Capitals and So Kids Can will return to the site on Sunday, Sept. 16, for the official opening of the playground.
Funds for the playspace were raised through So Kids Can during the Caps 2011-12 season. Capitals defenseman Green and Segal created the So Kids Can program in 2008 to benefit youth-focused, nonprofit organizations. Last season Caps forwards Backstrom and Laich also joined the cause. So Kids Can has raised more than $200,000 for various youth-oriented organizations since its inception.
The playground was the second built by the Washington Capitals, So Kids Can and KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to saving play for America’s children by creating great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities. In 2011 the organizations partnered to build a Capitals-themed playground at Associates for Renewal in Education in Washington, D.C.