Propel Homestead students help create a place to play

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When children design a playground, anything goes.

"We might get a giant shark tank or large zoo next to the playground," said Mike Vietti, senior communications manager for KaBOOM! "Unfortunately, those are things we can't quite accommodate.

What the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization can accommodate is the opportunity for children to have their say in determining what goes into the equipment on which they'll be playing.

Last week, about 25 students of Propel Homestead provided their ideas during a design day at the charter school's Homestead location.

"They spent about an hour. We gave them big sheets of paper and asked them to design the playground they'd like to see," Mr. Vietti said. "We'll take drawings the children created and incorporate them into the final design for the playground that will be built Aug. 29 at the school."

That Thursday looks to be a busy one.

"We'll have about 200 volunteers from Propel, the McDonald's Foundation and the local community. They'll all join forces in a span of about six or seven hours to build that playground the kids designed. "It's kind of like an old-fashioned barn raising, except with a playground."

KaBOOM! has partnered with the McDonald's Foundation to build 12 playgrounds at various places, with the Homestead project the final one. Since its founding in 1996, KaBOOM! has partnered with a variety of organizations to build more than 2,300 playgrounds in the United States and Canada.

Mr. Vietti said the playground planners look at common themes provided by children, such as colors and shapes of equipment, to integrate into a final concept.

The Propel students took to their task eagerly.

"They were very excitable," Mr. Vietti reported. "In this case, we're talking about a school that simply didn't have a playground for the children it serves to enjoy. They are ecstatic that shortly after school starts in the fall, they will have this great new playground."

Propel serves about 3,200 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in nine Allegheny County locations. The new playground is expected to serve more than 400 children in the local area.

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Harry Funk, freelance writer:


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