Around 150 volunteers help assemble 2,400-square-foot playground

Rhonda Freeman wasn’t a member of one of the organizations taking part in a playground build at a local Boys & Girls Club Saturday, but she was eager to help.

The second grade teacher at Bristol Elementary School in Colorado Springs said her students live in the area and use the club. Freeman wants to encourage them and other youth to be active, reduce their time in front of electronic devices and let their imaginations go wild.

“That’s what childhood is about,” said Freeman, who was taking a break from shoveling dirt under the bright sun.

Approximately 150 volunteers met on Saturday at the El Pomar Boys & Girls Club, 805 Praderia Ave., to help assemble a 2,400-square-foot playground, set up raised beds for a community garden and construct an amphitheater. Dust from unmixed concrete and mulch drifted near the new playground as the pounding of hammers and the shriek of electric drills filled the air.

The effort featured volunteers from the project’s organizers: KaBOOM!, a nonprofit that coordinates community playground builds, and UnitedHealthcare. But it also drew people like Freeman who wanted to create a safe place for kids.

Tim Ray, who works with military families in nine states for UnitedHealthcare, said the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region was picked because of its proximity to military installations. About 25 percent of children served by the organization have at least one parent who is or has been deployed, he said.

“If we can help in any little way, that’s what it’s all about,” said Ray, who served in the Air Force.

Current and former users of the club also helped with the build.

James Sullivan III, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region, said the playground, garden and amphitheater will augment the services the club provides.

“A kid can come here and pretty much have that home away from home,” Sullivan said. “They want to come somewhere they can have fun.”

Contact Stephen Hobbs: 636-0275

Twitter @bystephenhobbs

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