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The early morning sunshine was radiant on Saturday, October 9, 2010 as hundreds of volunteers, including NYAM staff members and its Harlem community partners, came out in full force to build a playground at for children residing at Odyssey House, a comprehensive treatment center that helps individuals and families deal with substance use disorders, mental illness, elder care, and medical challenges.
Armed with paint, hammers, drills, wheelbarrows, bags of cement, and boundless energy, the volunteers transformed an empty lot next to Odyssey House into a safe and fun environment complete with slides, a basketball court, a walking bridge, seesaws, picnic tables, chess tables, children's benches, and a large mural depicting several popular children's book characters.
New York State First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson helped to kick off the day's events with a thank you to volunteers and Odyssey staff for understanding the importance of great play space. Mrs. Paterson, an advocate for improving the health of all New Yorkers, told the group their efforts would result not only in a beautiful playground for the children, but also in a place where parents could begin teaching their children the importance of exercise.
On October 7, NYAM President Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford joined KaBoom project managers and Odyssey House in prepping the site, helping to prepare the site for construction by unloading and taking inventory of the playground equipment, priming wood for chess tables, and priming the side of a building for what became the canvas for the mural.
"Our participation with this project demonstrates we are what we say we are, 'A Think and Do Tank,' concerned with our community and all of its residents," Dr. Boufford said.
Simone-Marie Meeks, NYAM's Director of Community and Legislative Outreach and a key organizer of the event, told the group that NYAM continues to seek ways to support its community.
"Whether we're trying to evaluate the health challenges affecting the community or mentoring the younger generation of health professionals in Harlem, we want to be a support to our community and the policymakers working to better outcomes here," she said.
The event was hosted by KRAFT Foundation and KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to creating play spaces through the participation and leadership of communities like NYAM and Odyssey House. The event is part of a national effort to create similar parks around the United States. To date, KaBOOM! has built more than 1,800 playgrounds serving over 3.5 million children.
Volunteers Mixing Cement
Volunteers Building Tables
Volunteers assembling play structures
Volunteer painting mural
Volunteers applying finishing touch to Curious George
Volunteer assembling slide
Using precise detail to paint chess boards
NYAM Volunteers Jeanelle Roman and Julie Netherland painting mural
NYAM Volunteers Andrew, Ryan, Brittany, Harold, and Mary take a well-deserved break.
NYAM volunteer Simone Marie Meeks thanks volunteers for their efforts
Posted on October 14, 2010
Abigail J. Franklin
Vice President for Development & Communications
The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
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