“Who’s ready to build a playground?” On the morning of Friday, March 7, 150 volunteers from Sharks Sports & Entertainment and the surrounding community responded to this call, gathering at an empty parking lot that would be transformed into a 2,500 square foot Sharks-themed playground by the conclusion of the day.
With the guidance of national non-profit KaBOOM! and the support of Pueblo de Dios Church and the San Jose Parks Foundation, the Sharks Foundation’s biggest project of the year targeted an underserved area of West San Jose whose community members lacked access to a childhood staple; a playground.
At the start of the new year, KaBOOM!, whose mission “envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America,” helped the Sharks Foundation kick start the project with a kid-friendly design day. 30 children animatedly sketched the playground of their dreams. Just two months later, the drawings had been converted into a blueprint and construction began.
“Before today this neighborhood didn’t have a park that was accessible to kids nearby,”
commented Sharks Foundation Manager Jeff Cafuir as the construction day began. “The Sharks want to encourage children to live healthy lifestyles. We hope that by building a playground, they will be encouraged to get out outside and be active.”
With a timeline of only six hours to construct the new playground, volunteers were split into groups to assemble slides and swings, shovel mulch, build benches, paint tiles and plant flowers. Sharks mascot S.J. Sharkie and athletes #13 Raffi Torres, #32 Alex Stalock, #80 Matt Tennyson and #83 Matt Nieto all visited the build site in the final hours to help apply the finishing teal touches.
“It’s great to be out here and support the community,” said Sharks goaltender #32 Alex Stalock, whose fiancé and mother were among the volunteers. “We’re giving children the chance to enjoy the outdoors together.”
“How cool is it to build a playground in just a few hours?” asked Sharks alum and radio broadcaster Jamie Baker shortly before the ribbon cutting ceremony. “It took a village of dedicated volunteers to get this done, but we turned a dream into reality and helped better this community.”
ABOUT THE SHARKS FOUNDATION
The Sharks recognize the value in helping the community and for that reason, we are extremely proud of the work we do through the Sharks Foundation. Established in 1994, the Sharks Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the lives of youth and families in our community with an emphasis in the areas of Education, Health and Safety, and Character Development. Since our inception, the Sharks Foundation has donated more than $7 million to non-profit organizations, including more than $1 million over the past two seasons. As role models, we’re committed to giving back to the community that so strongly supports us. To learn more about how the Sharks Foundation is helping tens of thousands of undeserved children and families in our community, visit our website or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
ABOUT PUEBLO DE DIOS COMMUNITY GROUP
The Pueblo Play Community Group is a volunteer-led neighborhood organization formed to bring more play to kids and to build community specifically in the neighborhoods surrounding the Pueblo de Dios Church in the Payne/Winchester area of San Jose. The Pueblo de Dios Church, which is a Spanish-speaking mission church of Prince of Peace Lutheran churches, provided the land for the playground. With the San Jose Parks Foundation as the fiscal agent, the Pueblo Play Community Group will be responsible for maintaining and promoting the use of the park for all the community. For more information and to learn how you can be part of the Pueblo Play Community group, visit puebloplay.com.
ABOUT THE SAN JOSE PARKS FOUNDATION
San Jose Parks Foundation is a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing San Jose City Parks and Trails, as well as the programs that take place within them. San Jose Parks Foundation focuses on four key areas: Neighborhood Empowerment; Recruitment, Training and Management of Volunteers, Support for Healthy Activities for Low-income Youth; and Advocacy on behalf of the community for Parks and Trails.
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to the bold new goal of ensuring that all children, particularly the 16 million American children living in poverty, get the balance of active play they need to become healthy and successful adults. KaBOOM! has been a powerful champion for play since its founding in 1996, working with partners to build, improve and open more than 15,000 playgrounds, engage more than 1,000,000 volunteers and serve more than 6,600,000 children. KaBOOM! creates and catalyzes great places to play, inspires, empowers and leads play advocates, and educates and elevates the societal conversation about the importance of play in children’s lives. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org/act.
Click here to view photos from the event.