NBA Cares About New Orleans

NBA All Star Jr. Journalism Program

By: Jailyn Heisser, St. Mary’s Dominican High School

Mentored by: Lauren Cason, New Orleans CVB

Photo by Stephanie Mayer, St. Mary’sDominican High School

Most adults look back on their childhood and remember all the time they spent outside playing. The NBA recognizes that some children do not have access to this type of play time and has dedicated itself to improving this problem. Between structured play and just plain running wild, this play time has an important role in shaping children’s lives, whether it teaches them the importance of teamwork or lays the foundation for their careers.

On Friday, February 17, as a part of the 10th NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service, 500 volunteers, including present and past NBA players and close associates, assembled at William Hart Elementary School in Gretna, Louisiana, to build a new playground and restore the school’s basketball courts.

The NBA Day of Service got its start in New Orleans in 2008 as a way to restore the city after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The NBA has since then extended this service to giving kids the opportunity to simply play.

This year, in partnership with KaBOOM! – a national non-profit dedicated to giving kids access to daily active play – the NBA chose to provide William Hart Elementary School with their brand new playground.

This playground will give William Hart students the chance to engage in structured play that will allow them to “dream and connect it to something real,” said Ms. Janeen Weston, principal of William Hart Elementary School.

This day was both a step forward for William Hart and a blast to the past for many NBA professionals. Helping to build this playground “took me back when I was a kid on the playground,” said Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic forward. “It’s important that kids have the opportunity to play and just have fun.”

This Day of Service also gave the local students the opportunity to see first-hand the way that these successful people give back to their community. In addition to giving these kids access to structured play, the NBA Day of Service is helping William Hart achieve its goal of empowering its students to reach their full potential. According to Ms. Weston, this day should encourage the students to want to give back and become active members of the community that brought them up.

This service project was KaBOOM!’s twelfth playground project nationally, and sixth New Orleans project. By teaming up with the NBA, KaBOOM! has been able to bring more awareness to their mission to focus on communities in need.