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Volunteers transform slab of concrete in East Oakland into playground

on October 31, 2011

On Friday, parents, kids, and community leaders came out to Youth Uprising, a youth center in East Oakland, to help build a community playground.  In six hours, the play area at Youth Uprising transformed from a slab of concrete to a playground that includes swings, monkey bars and artwork made by the kids who volunteered.

“If you would have showed up here at 7:00 this morning, you would have seen an empty lot with a bunch of concrete,” said Manuel Garvin, the social enterprise account manager for Youth Uprising.  “Now it’s a full-fledged playground.”

In partnership with Sega of America, a video game company based in San Francisco, and Kaboom, a non-profit organization that builds playgrounds for communities, Youth Uprising decided to build the playground to give us the neighborhood “something that we’re missing, which is a fun and safe playground for the children,” Garvin said.

Over 60 Sega employees helped build the playground. “We feel that Youth Uprising is a great enterprise and they do very important work for children,” said Alan Pritechard, the executive vice president of Sega of America.  “We thought it was a great opportunity for Sega to give something back to the local community here in East Oakland.”

Planning for the playground started about six weeks ago when and the kids were asked to draw their ideal playground.  Kaboom built the custom playground based on the kids’ designs, which included murals in the seating area and hand-painted wooden tiles on the fence.

“My kids came and sketched some ideas that they had for the playground, and we’ve been involved in the planning committee every since,” said Sandrine Malary, a mother of four who lives nearby and also volunteered to help on Friday.  “It gives them some place to call their own, since they participated in working on it.”

The playground construction began at 9:00 on Friday morning and concluded around 3:00 that afternoon.  Volunteers did most of the work by hand, including mixing over 10,000 pounds of concrete.

Building something for their community motivated some of the volunteers.

“I’m very inspired,” said Malary.  “I had fun doing arts and crafts with the community kids, and it’s a beautiful park. I have not seen a lot of parks in the area, and I have four kids.  So, it’s good to have places for them to come out and enjoy.”

The park will open for the public on October 31.  It’s open on Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. during the week on  at 8711 MacArthur Blouvard.


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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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