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Stars help build playground with Dallas LIFE

by Dallas Stars Staff / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars exchanged their hockey sticks for hammers on Saturday as they helped Dallas LIFE, a local homeless shelter, construct a new-and-improved playground featuring designs imagined by the kids themselves.

Stephane Robidas plays with kids in attendance at the grand opening of the new playground

In 2011, the Dallas Stars Foundation awarded Dallas LIFE a $25,000 grant in order to build a safe and fun environment for children of the shelter to play. With the help and resources of the Pro-Players Foundation as part of their InstantReplay Initiative, which builds or revitalizes sports and play facilities for disadvantaged youth across North Texas, the plans for the playground began to take shape. After months of planning the playground became a reality on Saturday morning.

With work gloves on at 9 a.m., dozens of volunteers and staff began the process of remaking the empty patch of grass into a state-of-the-art playground. It only took a few hours of laying down mulch, pouring concrete and assembling parts to accomplish their goal.

Vernon Fiddler, Stephane Robidas and alumni Bob Bassen were on site to not only help with the construction, but also participate in play time after the playground was ready for use.

“It’s great to see the kids have such a nice place to be active,” said Robidas. “The day went very well, we had great weather and the kids were very excited.”

Fiddler and Robidas, along with Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony to officially introduce the children to their new playground.

“This is incredible,” said Fiddler. “The build was efficient and it is a great area for them to run around in. I enjoy being able to help with things like this and bring my family.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Stars help build new playground for local shelter

Dallas LIFE was founded in 1954. The first location was just a few blocks from the city jail and housed 25 men each. Now, over 50 years later, Dallas LIFE can serve over 500 men, women and children. Dallas LIFE reaches out to homeless men, women and children with food, clothing, shelter, education and long-term rehabilitation programs. In keeping with their philosophy of providing “a hand-up, not a hand-out.,” their 10-month New Life Program is the most comprehensive and successful recovery program in the DFW area, with a graduation rate of 25%. The playground will serve the 50-70 children typically in residence at the shelter for 10 months at a time, and give them a place to have fun that they can call their own.

“The Dallas Stars have touched the lives of thousands of children by partnering with Dallas LIFE and sponsoring our new playground, said Bob Sweeney, executive director of Dallas LIFE. “They even came down with players and executive staff on Saturday and played with the kids showing again how deeply the Dallas Stars care about kids.”

Build day was such a success and the Dallas Stars hope the playground is something the children will enjoy for years and years to come.

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