On Oct. 23 at 8:30 a.m., more than 500 volunteers from the White House, the Corporation for National and Community Service and KaBOOM! National Partners converged on an open field beside the future home of Hyde Leadership Public Charter School. They gathered to build a playground for the 500 students that will be moving into the renovated building in December. To kick off the event, White House cabinet Secretaries Shaun Donovan, Arne Duncan, Ray LaHood and Tom Vilsack each took a moment to discuss the importance of play and playgrounds for children, schools and communities.  In his remarks, Vilsack summed up everyone’s sentiments by saying simply, “Eat right, play hard and you’ll live a long life.”

With that, the volunteers were turned loose on their projects, building a giant playdome, an adventure tube and curly slide, an outdoor stage, benches, picnic tables, and everything the school needed to make the space a beautiful place for the whole community to spend time.

Other groups attacked two giant piles of safety surfacing that they hauled over to the play area, one tarp at a time.

Donovan excelled at assembling the school’s new rock wall, while Duncan was a tour de force mixing concrete and hauling mulch.

The playground build was led by national non-profit KaBOOM! as part of USA Weekend’s “Make A Difference Day” a national day of service involving more than 3 million people nationwide. The majority of the funding for this playground was provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of a national effort to engage residents in getting involved in their communities. Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, also joined in the day, leading a team of more than 100 AmeriCorps members. Sixty White House Fellows rounded out the build teams.