National Child Health Day is the first Monday of each October. The observance was created as a way to not only acknowledge the importance of children being physically, mentally, and behaviorally healthy, but also to remind Americans that every child deserves a chance to reach their fullest potential. For nearly 11 years now, The Rees-Jones Foundation has supported and invested in such endeavors. For this reason, today we would like to highlight one longstanding grantee of the Foundation – the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. Their mission to “put Christian values into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all” is one that aligns with the Foundation’s interests and provides all children and youth with opportunities for healthy recreation and quality out-of-school-time experiences.
Recently, with the help of AT&T and KaBoom!, the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas’ Park South YMCA branch was awarded a playground build. This was not just any build. The South Dallas branch, located in an under-resourced area of the metroplex, received WAY more than expected. With more than 800 volunteers from all 50 states, the “nation” was able to build two safe and fun playgrounds, mobile learning objects such as drawing easels and stools, a large garden for composting and growing fruits and vegetables, and indoor library spaces for reading. To complete the project, a team of talented volunteers painted a beautiful, multicolor world map along the building’s driveway.
This daylong build was not only a monumental enhancement for the Park South YMCA and surrounding South Dallas community, but also was a beautiful coming together of Americans to show their love and support for children. The newly renovated spaces will allow our future leaders to build character and learn valuable life lessons through safe, healthy play and fellowship. And the Park South YMCA neighbors agree. The investment will build up both the children and the South Dallas community. As Dave Flannigan, director of operations for program management with KaBOOM!, so perfectly states, “A playground build a catalyst for change in the rest of the community. When people come together to build a playground, it’s a tangible, collective accomplishment. Then they wonder, ‘What else can we do?'”
Continue scrolling to see photos from the unforgettable day…
An area where volunteers were building one of the new playgrounds.
One of the new playground builds in progress.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson addresses and thanks the crowd of volunteers.
Rodrigua Ross, Park South YMCA Executive Director, and Curt Hazelbaker, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas President and CEO, sharing their immense gratitude for the build.
Rodrigua Ross, Park South YMCA Executive Director, cutting the child-made ribbon to commemorate the day and celebrate the newly renovated spaces.
Hundreds of volunteers joining together in celebration of the playground build. (Photo credit: KaBoom!.)