I went into the June 19 KaBOOM! playground construction project at Oakley Elementary School in Asheville with the intention of writing a blog post that would capture the significance of the new play area through the eyes of the children who will be using it.
That plan went straight out the window as soon as Oakley fourth-grader Sare Koruk started her opening remarks to the 200 volunteers from the Oakley community, UNC-Asheville and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina on hand to construct Oakley Elementary’s new playground.
About 15 seconds into her address, I realized there was nothing I could write that would improve on Sare’s words. Thank you, Sare, for your sincere and eloquent speech.
Opening Remarks by Sare Koruk, Oakley Elementary 4th Grader
Hi! I am honored to talk to you today about Oakley’s new KaBOOM! playground. My purpose for talking to you about this is to help you understand why we NEEDED this playground and what it means for all of Oakley’s students, including me.
Oakley’s old playground STUNK! It was boring and unsafe. Our playground didn’t feel safe for students. The rocks under the equipment hurt if you fell down on them and they were not very deep. Our playground needed good equipment for a little girl at our school who is in a wheelchair and all she had was one little swing. This wasn’t very fair because she deserved to play, too.
Our playground had LOTS of space, but nothing fun to play with or get exercise with. Most students, including myself, just sat and played or talked on the bleachers. Recess was more of a boring time on our old playground. If I could, I would have chosen to stay inside and do literature studies! Basically, Oakley’s old playground was no fun, and fun is what exercise is! We needed a new playground to become an active group of children.
The first great thing about KaBOOM!, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Oakley Elementary working together to build a playground is that WE, the students, have had a voice in it, too! First, the students became involved by writing persuasive letters to KaBOOM! about why we needed a new playground. I myself wrote one of these letters to KaBOOM! when this process started. Another thing that we participated in was design day on April 9, 2015. On design day, the students met Katie (Applebaum) from KaBOOM! and the representatives from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and we drew designs of our dream playgrounds. The pictures we drew were used to help the playground designers in Washington, DC, come up with three different playground designs for our school. The students looked at the three designs and voted on the final playground that would be built at our school. That is the playground all of you will be building for us today!
The students from Oakley have a great future ahead of them, so why not give us children a good playground that we ALL deserve? This KaBOOM! build is going to help Oakley Elementary and the Oakley community because EVERYBODY deserves to play. It will also create a better relationship with the community because of all of the people that have come together to make this new playground happen. Kids at Oakley feel like winners right now! We were chosen because we deserve it, and that feels GREAT!
I hope that I have helped you get a better picture of how excited we are! Thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Thank you to all of you who are here to make our dreams come true! Thank you to KaBOOM!, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and our teacher, Ms. April Alexander, for getting us a new playground, and thank you to ALL of you for listening.
Sare Koruk, 4th Grade, Oakley Elementary School