If You Build It, They Will Play

Playground Build: Takoma Educational Center

Of course they will! What child doesn’t love a playground? Especially one built with their ideas and interests in mind. Over the course of two days in late October, 55 CapitalSource employees built a custom-designed playground from start to finish for the three-, four- and five-year old students at Takoma Educational Center in Washington, D.C.

Takoma Educational Center describes itself as a student-centered, responsive, laboratory for learning, but the school was missing what most three- to five-year-olds would consider the best laboratory in any school…the playground. Sure, other playgrounds exist at Takoma Educational Center, but none suited to little tikes.

Led by Joe Cicirelli of Learning Structures, a for-profit, playground-design company with a belief in service, in two days time, we transformed a completely empty rubber-covered yard to a full-blown playground with an artistic flair. Under the District’s Public School Catalyst Project initiated in July 2009, Takoma Educational Center was designated one of 13 schools selected to transform into a theme-based “catalyst school;” each school is charged with inspiring and motivating children through active learning and inventive, theme-based curricula. Takoma’s theme is the arts, so a playground with an artistic flair was just the ticket, and CapitalSource’s offer to build a playground came at just the right time for D.C.'s newly-implemented program.

From a giant xylophone to easels, climbing structures, a slide, and even a stage for the production of plays, CapitalSource employees built it all with locally-purchased materials and carefully diagrammed instructions provided by Learning Structures. On Monday, when the children returned to school, they were thrilled by the new playground and put it to the test that day. According to Caitlin Moore of ServiceCorps, “the children were undeniably excited to have a new place to play.” Not only will the school benefit from our contribution, but the local community will as well. Thankful neighbors stopped by during construction to monitor progress and express their gratitude for our work and donation to the community.