PHOENIX - More than 200 volunteers teamed to create a playground for students at New World Educational Center in Phoenix on Tuesday, including several Coyotes players, broadcasters, Howler and many others representing the Arizona Coyotes Foundation.
Working in unison with other volunteers from Carvana and the school itself, Coyotes volunteers spread mulch, mixed concrete, painted murals, and assembled and erected the playground components in less than five hours, capping a project that began two months ago when the kids who attend the school, and their parents, started designing the playground.
"It's an incredible feeling to give back to the community and build a playground for all of these kids," said Clayton Keller, one of the players who raced to the school to help out after an hour-long practice in Glendale. "We enjoyed meeting the kids and hearing what they like about the playground. You get a special feeling when you hear how excited they are about it and see the smiles on their faces."
The playground is the third the Coyotes have built in the Valley with help from KaBOOM!, a national non-profit whose mission is "to ensure that all kids get a childhood filled with the balanced and active play needed to thrive." The other playgrounds are at Larry C. Kennedy School in Phoenix and at Bonsall Park North in Glendale.
Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson addressed the kids, school officials and the volunteers after the project was completed and, like Keller and the other players who attended, mingled afterward.
"You can tell just walking around here how happy the kids are to be on this playground and to be having some fun," Ekman-Larsson said. "I've been a kid too, believe it or not, and I had a lot of fun on playgrounds. They'll get so much out of it; they make new friends, they move around, they stay in shape, and they get to come outside and not just sit in front of a computer. It's really good for the kids that they get a chance to have a playground like this."
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The Arizona Coyotes Foundation granted the funds for the project with support from Carvana.
"I take a lot of pride in seeing our staff out here, rolling up their sleeves and going to work, and doing something good for the community," Team President and CEO Ahron Cohen said. "Obviously we're a hockey team and we're focused on winning hockey games, but one of the things that makes me the most proud to be part of this team is doing things like this. Our team is a community asset, and the way to be a community asset is to positively impact our community like this."