KaBOOM! ‘Literacy Playground’ at the El Cajon Branch Library is now a reality

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Despite the rain, nearly 300 volunteers arrived at the El Cajon Branch Library on April 7 for the city of El Cajon’s fourth KaBOOM! project—building a playground in one day. Being connected to the library, this is considered a “literary playground” that will not only serve the children in the area, but be used for recreation within the library programs. During the summer the library serves around 200 lunches a day to kids, and have utilized that space in the past for playtime.

Despite the rain, nearly 300 volunteers arrived at the El Cajon Branch Library on April 7 for the city of El Cajon’s fourth KaBOOM! project—building a playground in one day. Being connected to the library, this is considered a “literary playground” that will not only serve the children in the area, but be used for recreation within the library programs. During the summer the library serves around 200 lunches a day to kids, and have utilized that space in the past for playtime. Now, with the help of the community, the city, and many partners and hours spent, these kids have a playground to play in.

This is a result of Design Day, where kids from the community came in and gave their interpretations of the perfect playground, followed by adults from the community placing their input into the children’s designs. Plans were then sent to Playworld Stations, a KaBOOM! partner, and a single design was chosen.

All of this was possible through the funding power of the CarMax Foundation, the City of El Cajon, Stoney’s Kids, the Downtown El Cajon Business Partners, an a lot of volunteers from the community and its organizations.

El Cajon Post 303 Legionnaires took part in the day of volunteering.

Post Adjutant Rob trade said it took six and one-half hours from start to finish. With the starting of the project at 8:00 a.m., he said that the playground began taking shape as early as 9:00 a.m. The entire project was completed by 1:00 p.m.

“This is the fourth KaBOOM! playground in El Cajon in the last three years,” he stated. “El Cajon Post 303 has participated in all four of the builds.”

El Cajon Recreation Services Manager Frank Carson said the day started early, with the community arriving around 6:00 a.m. and the rain beginning a few minutes afterwards, which did not stop, even after the build. Around 200 volunteers arrived first thing in the morning and later, 90 students from Montgomery Middle School to paint 1 ft. x 1 ft. squares to be mounted on the walls next week at the park.

“The funding partner, the CarMax Foundation, we won what the call the com-play-tition against the other CarMax build happening in Ft. Worth,” he said. “The score was 6-4. We won for the most likes on social media with one image, with more than 3,000 likes on the city’s Instagram account. We also won for the fastest pieces put together and for the dirtiest volunteer.”

We moved 150 cubic yards of mulch, he said, 50 cubic yards more because of the larger area.

Carson said that was the easy one as everyone was soaking wet and dirty. He said finishing painting touches that could not be done because of the rain this coming Saturday.

“We thank our community partners, the Downtown El Cajon Business Partners and Stoney’s Kids for making it all happen,” he said.

He said the CarMax Foundation donated $10,000 to the host-field partner, the El Cajon Branch Library to actually have activities that target youth inside the library and those outside in the playground, so they can have reading times and other specialized activities that focus on play and reading.

“Our big push was to make this a literacy playground,” he said. “There are many components around the playground area that encourage the learning of the alphabet and reading as well as mural projects around that are alphabet based.”

Carson said with the swings, they have two youth aged swings, one toddler and one ADA accessible swing. He said recent studies show that swinging helps strengthen the same brain muscle that also strengthens for reading. That’s why they decided on four swings at this site.

“They playground will be officially open on from the library side on Monday (April 25),” he said.

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