Students Play Because NBA Cares

NBA All Star Jr. Journalism Program

By Madeline Puente, St. Mary’s Dominican High School
Mentor Barri Bronston
Photos by Stephanie Mayer, St. Mary’s Dominican High School

For over a decade, William Hart Elementary School students have had nowhere to play, but on Friday, Feb. 17 everything changed. For the tenth NBA All-Star Day of Service, the KaBOOM organization partnered with NBA Cares to build a much needed playground.
“It is great for the students to see that there are people outside of the school that are invested and believe in them,” said Rebecca Schafer, special education teacher.

Current and former NBA, WNBA, and NBA Development League players and coaches volunteered their time to help make this playground possible. “This is a great opportunity to give back to the community,” said Steph Curry, who in his sixth year of working with NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service.

NBA Cares focuses on communities in need to offer children opportunities to be active and play outside. In 2008, the NBA created the Day of Service in response to Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed most of New Orleans. From then on, the All-Star Game weekend became a way to help communities across the nation.

After years of writing grants, William Hart was finally selected to be a recipient of KaBOOM’s services. KaBOOM chose NBA Cares to help build the playground because both organizations emphasize the importance of play for children. According to Alejandro Cardemil, who works on KaBOOM’s corporate partnership team, the organizations have worked together on twelve playground projects.

NBA All Star Jr. Journalism Program

Principal Janeen Weston was ecstatic to see the empty space transformed into a beautiful playground, complete with slides, jungle gyms, swings, and a basketball court. “Our goal with building the playground is to give every child a place to play,” said Weston. “They need this as an outlet for imagination and socializing.”

Out of over 300 students, ten fifth graders were selected to help with the project and in the process they learned about giving back to their community. Currlyielle Walker was thrilled to have been chosen because it not only gave her the opportunity to meet and work alongside her idols but to help brighten the lives of her classmates.

“All of our waiting has paid off,” said Schafer. “It’s like we’ve hit the jackpot.”