Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) has built or renovated more than 2,000 playgrounds and provided new sports equipment to hundreds of organizations since 2011 through our Let’s Play initiative. Working with KaBOOM! and Good Sports to provide the tools, places and inspiration to make play a daily priority, Let’s Play will benefit nearly 10 million children across North America by 2017. Here’s a taste of how several Let’s Play projects have transformed their communities.
Ethiopian Community in Seattle
The Ethiopian Community in Seattle (ECS) is a non-profit organization designed to support Ethiopian refugees, immigrants and descendants, as well as preserve Ethiopian culture in the organization’s surrounding community. In summer 2014, Let’s Play gave ECS its first playground, as well a new fence, art easels and picnic tables.
“One of the things the community center lacked was a place for children to play,” explains Fikru Kifle, an advisor to ECS. “We were looking for to donors to help us.”
Through after-school programs, weekend events and monthly breakfasts, more than 30 ECS children regularly benefit from the new playground. Since the playground is open to the public, Fikru says children from the local neighborhood and surrounding community now use the community center’s playground as well.
O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy
A kindergarten through eighth grade public school, O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy serves more than 840 kids from all over Chicago. Prior to receiving a grant through Let’s Play, Thorp lacked both a playground and a safe space for children to play, leaving students with an asphalt lot as an outdoor recreational area.
To address this need, Friends of Thorp, a non-profit, parent fundraising organization, applied for a playground grant from Let’s Play via our nonprofit partner, KaBOOM! After receiving the grant, the Friends of Thorp quickly went to work and helped coordinate more than 300 volunteers for the playground build, the centerpiece of #LetsPlayChicago, a community play festival that also included sports equipment donations in partnership with Good Sports. Now, the school boasts a large new playground for students to enjoy during recess, before and after school, the annual Fall Fest, weekends and occasional school clean-up events. DPS and community volunteers also beautified the play area by adding benches, shade structures and greenery during the build.
“Parents, teachers and neighbors are creating a stronger community through kids playing and interacting with one another,” explains Lisa Weisenberger, President of Friends of Thorp. “It was an amazing thing for our school to experience. The playground has also enhanced the school itself by showcasing a more friendly space than just asphalt."
Located in Ottumwa, Iowa, Wildwood Park was in desperate need of a new playground a few years ago. As one of the largest employers in the Ottumwa, DPS saw a responsibility to deliver a replacement for the city’s kids and families to enjoy.
“We are all about trying to get kids out to play, so this project was especially important to us,” says Matt Rose, DPS branch manager. “We wanted to give back to the community and help.”
Matt led a group of DPS and community volunteers in installing a new playground complete with an assortment of fun and colorful pieces, such as a slide, a loop ladder, a cliff hanger and sky swivels. During the build, volunteers also resurfaced the park’s basketball court, planted 14 trees and added park benches, among other projects. Thanks to the volunteers’ efforts, Mayor Tom Lazio issued a proclamation declaring the build day “Let’s Play Day” in Ottumwa.
Chris Cobbler, Ottumwa parks department manager, says the playground gets plenty of use from Ottumwa locals and visiting families alike. The playground is located between two large shelters rented by families nearly every weekend, making it an ideal place for children to play.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas
After expressing a need for more athletic resources last summer, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas received an equipment grant from Let’s Play through our partnership with Good Sports. With the new equipment, which includes dodge balls, jerseys, basketballs and soccer and football gear, clubs can now continually add new games and involve kids who might not have previously engaged in sports in fun activities. The clubs use the equipment as part of Triple Play, a club initiative designed to get kids active for 60 minutes a day while teaching key principles of healthy lifestyles.
“The equipment keeps kids busy, and it’s great to be able to have more equipment so we can get more kids participating at the same time,” says DeRon Bethea, athletic director of Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas. “It’s special. The kids really enjoy it.”
St. Louis Public Schools
Good Sports and DPS also provided an equipment grant to St. Louis Public Schools earlier this year as a part of Let’s Play’s Pick-Pack-Play initiative. The grant has provided 12 St. Louis high schools with new scrimmage vests, gloves, football pads, girdles, basketballs, cones and pop-up goals.
“Our athletic directors were very impressed by the quality of the equipment,” explains Gary Glasscock, a basketball and softball coach at Metro Academic and Classical High School. “They said everything we received was outstanding!”
To learn more about Let’s Play grants, or to nominate an organization in need of new playground or sports equipment, please visit the Let’s Play website.