Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Dreamkeeper Garden Gets a New Neighbor!

Change is in the air and on the ground at the Dreamkeeper Garden!  Just a few weeks ago at our last garden work day we built a chicken coop and added more lasagna layers to our space.  Not 10 days later the garden got a very special new neighbor: a beautiful and colorful new playground!

The playground was made possible through the generous help of KaBoom!, a national non-profit, "dedicated to saving play for America's children."  KaBoom! has built over 2000 playgrounds across the United States including more than 70 in New Orleans alone!

On the morning of Monday, February 6th over 200 volunteers gathered in the courtyard to split into different build teams for the different parts of the playground.  KaBoom! planned to finish construction before the end of the school day, an ambitious but exciting goal.

Within minutes volunteers were hard at work mixing concrete, attaching wood for benches, shoveling and transporting woodchip mulch, assembling different sections of playground, building a sandbox, leveling ground for a basketball court, and transplanting shrubs for a butterfly garden.

Volunteers painting a mural (L) and transporting concrete (R)

As the hours flew by the playground came slowly to life.  Soft mulch piled up around the feet of the tall black poles holding up red playground platforms.  Scattered two-by-fours gathered and grew into beautiful wooden benches and picnic tables.  A bare section of fence collected reds, greens, blues and yellows as it began to read "Dream it, Do it, Be it."  The white and many-traingled Superdome, fully assembled in record time, found its final resting place next to the seesaws.

Volunteers hard at work on different sections of the playground

With the deadline approaching all attention turned to the mulch.  A hill-shaped pile loomed just beyond the boundary fence, the last challenge to overcome for tiring volunteers.  Working with the camaraderie and rhythm of skilled musicians, the volunteers steadily shrank the pile to the ground as its contents filled the final gaps on the playground.

Right as the clock struck 2:30, we had done it!  We had built an entire playground in less than a day!  We celebrated our incredible accomplishment with a performance by the LHA Marching Band, followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony that included several elementary school scholars and community leaders.  The ribbon itself was assembled from thank-you cards from dozens of LHA students, a token of gratitude for the hard work and sacrifice of all who helped.

The LHA Marching Band performs (L) shortly before the ribbon-cutting ceremony (R)

The garden has a beautiful, shining, exciting new neighbor that we're so grateful for.  Every day after garden class scholars will now be able to enjoy a space designed and built especially for them.

Special thanks to all of our volunteers and especially to Verint Systems for their extremely generous donation to make our playground possible.
One of several new benches, before and after

The playground space before (L) and after (R)
A beautiful new mural and picnic table

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