MOORE — Blue paint for the Oklahoma sky was the first layer Abbi Rose drew on a square cement tile. On top of that she drew the outline of Oklahoma with the words “Moore Strong” underneath.
Rose's concrete painting will be just one of many that the students of Briarwood Elementary will see every day on the walk to their new playground.
Laid together in a row, the concrete blocks form a colorful path to fun and happiness that has been sorely missed in Moore since May 20.
Rose, 13, said she hopes the path and the playground stand as reminders of all the hard work the community has done since the tornado in May.
“We wanted this to be just an encouragement and a thank-you for the work everyone has done,” Rose said. “Every day they can know that we are here for them. It's awesome because usually people are holed up by themselves, but we are all here together.”
More than 250 volunteers helped erect a new playground at Emmaus Baptist Church in Moore, which also serves as a temporary school for the students from Briarwood Elementary.
Volunteers from the community, Nike and KaBOOM!, a group that specializes in playground builds, worked from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to finish the playground.
Moore Schools Superintendent Robert Romines said this playground will be the first of five built in the Moore area with others planned at the sites of Plaza Towers Elementary and Briarwood.
Gift to church
“We want to donate this playground back to the church as a way to say thank you to them for letting the Briarwood students be here at no cost,” Romines said. “This is about showing the community that we are about rebuilding and the community is out here rebuilding. It's pretty cool.”
A little more than three months since the tornado destroyed Briarwood, Romines said the children are adjusting well to their new school at Emmaus.
Romines said he's still amazed at how many people want to help with volunteer opportunities.
“It's been very overwhelming to us how many people are out here,” he said. “This community is strong and we are going to get back to normal.”
Starlena Robinson came from Chicago to help as a volunteer for Nike.
Robinson said she got drive around some of the hardest hit areas of Moore which really gave her a lot of perspective as to what everyone went through.
“For me it's a wild experience to see everyone come together and work as one,” she said. “It brings chills to my body to see these kids pour their creativity out. Everyone is so ecstatic to have us out here.”
When Rose finished with her painted block, she heaved it over to where a group leader was fitting them all into place.
“I think everyone is really going to like this,” she said. “I'm sure proud of it.”
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