El Cajon’s Bostonia Recreation Center gets rebuilt in a day after community input

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What could be more fun than playing on a children’s dream playground? For adults, that just might be building it. Broad, lasting smiles graced the faces of the more than 150 volunteers on hand at El Cajon’s Bostonia Park & Recreation Center on Saturday, Nov. 9, for Build Day, constructing an expanded play space designed by the community.

What could be more fun than playing on a children’s dream playground? For adults, that just might be building it. Broad, lasting smiles graced the faces of the more than 150 volunteers on hand at El Cajon’s Bostonia Park & Recreation Center on Saturday, Nov. 9, for Build Day, constructing an expanded play space designed by the community.

Coming together under the umbrella coordination of health care company Humana and playground builder KaBOOM!, the City of El Cajon, American Legion El Cajon Post 303, and East County nonprofit children’s support group Stoney’s Kids joined as community partners in the one-day event, building a new multigenerational playground for Bostonia children with an added set of exercise stations for adults.

Preparations began two days earlier, clearing the build area for construction, and unloading two 50-foot semi-trailers of materials.

Frank Carson, Recreation Services manager, traced development of the quick-turnaround project, which began with Humana’s late-August offer for San Diego-area cities to compete for substantial grant money funding a playground build. El Cajon won over San Diego, Lemon Grove, and Santee, receiving notice of the award in mid-September. 

Design Day, on Sep. 26, brought 25 Bostonia Elementary School students together drawing pictures of dream playgrounds, which favored slides, climbing walls, monkey bars, and tetherball. From three finalists of children’s conceptual designs, adults chose the one assessed as best. 

The city expedited permits and put in new cement surrounding the build area. City officials were excited and pleased by the good turnout of community volunteers.

“We’re grateful to all our partners for making this happen,” Carson said.

Rob Tade, Commander of Post 303, said his group, which has met at the Bostonia Center since the early 1980’s, was involved with the grant from the beginning. The American Legion has adopted dedication to mentoring the next generation, taking Children & Youth as the third of the organization’s Four Pillars of Service. 

Tade further described how Legionnaire participation was key in landing award of the grant for Bostonia. Three Post 303 Legionnaires volunteered as build captains overseeing work teams, and 10 Post members worked at the event.

Dana Stevens, of STAND (Students Together against Alcohol and Drugs), brought several high school students who are refugees from war-torn Iraq.

“This means so much to them,” she said. “Here they are building something that lasts and is positive.”

Humana representatives described the project as part of the company’s commitment to helping individuals achieve and maintain lifelong health and well being, praising the Bostonia Build Day volunteers as very organized and efficient. 

Marina Renneke, from Humana’s West Region Media Relations team in Phoenix, said of the corporation’s grant award, “We don’t put a price on this, because the volunteer efforts and community partnership are invaluable.”

The Bostonia project, ninth of 10 nationwide in the Humana-KaBOOM! 2013 series, more than doubled the former playground space at the center and incorporated a therapeutic cocoon component for children diagnosed with autism. 

Three adult workout stations surround the central children’s playspace, with three exercise apparatus components at each station, with a newly planted garden nearby. 

Carson hopes El Cajon will win another KaBOOM! grant within two years.

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