As he was pouring mulch underneath where a new swing set was being installed, Mekhi Davis said he can't wait to bring his younger brother to the park to play.
About 140 volunteers Saturday helped build a playground at the campus of Northeast Regional Health and Wellness Center, 2600 NE 63, to help provide more outdoor activities for families in the northeast part of Oklahoma City.
Davis, 16, said he and his brothers from Sigma Beta and Beta Gamma junior fraternities thought helping build the playground would be a great way to spend their Saturday.
“It feels good because you don't really know people care until you see people out here working hard for others,” he said. “It's hard out here for some people and some kids don't have it as easy as others. This is cool bringing a community a park here for the kids because we don't really have too many parks around here and that's why kids get in trouble sometimes.”
Volunteers from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City-County Health Department joined organizers with nonprofit KaBOOM! to help erect the equipment. KaBOOM! was founded in 1996 in Washington, D.C., with the aim of bringing play areas within walking distance of every child in America.
Health department Executive Director Gary Cox said the area around the center was identified as health challenged. The playground is designed to give more than 1,300 children in northeast Oklahoma City with a safe place to play.
“Lack of physical activity, poor diet and substance abuse and tobacco use, we address all of that here,” Cox said. “This playground will be a great first step in really making difference in the community's health and wellness.”
Cox said plans for walking trails, sports fields, a farmers market and an outdoor amphitheater are in the works.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield volunteer Robert Dorrell said after spending the past two weeks helping Moore tornado victims, it feels good to get out and build something in the community.
“You see that devastation and this just feels like a nice break from it all,” he said.
“Plus you're still giving back to the community at the same time and it's fun to be a part of.”