Ravens Build Reservoir Hill Playground

KaBOOM! and about 300 volunteers gave 1,200 children a new place to play.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Thursday, June 16th, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

Wide-eyed Markis Nickens, 11, walked around what used to be a concrete slab that was designated a playground but looked nothing like it

He often walks to German Park from his home on Whitelock St. in Reservoir Hill, Baltimore, to come play basketball, but never really went on the “playground.”

Now, with a basketball tucked under his arm, Nickens saw a new hang-out spot. And he assured he’d be back.

Thanks to the effort of about 300 volunteers from the Baltimore Ravens, KaBOOM!, the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, Baltimore Housing and residents from the local community, there’s a new, glistening park that will serve more than 1,200 kids like Nickens in the small, burgeoning community.

“It’s real good,” Nickens said. “I couldn’t play on the playground much before. Nobody came out to play here.”

Ravens President Dick Cass

The build was funded via a grant from the Ravens All Community Team Foundation (RACTF) and through KaBOOM! It is the third build by the Ravens All Community Team Foundation and KaBOOM! and is one of more than 200 playground builds the national non-profit will lead across the country this year.

The Ravens got on board with this project because they saw potential in this neighborhood and are constantly looking to help the community. Players could not participate as they did in past builds due to the lockout, but 125 team employees pulled on work gloves and got their hands dirty.

Team President Dick Cass may be the sorest of anyone after hauling mulch from 8:30 a.m. straight through to 2:30 p.m. He couldn’t give an estimate on how many bags of mulch he heaved over his shoulder.

“If you count, you get depressed,” said Cass, who was also chatting with neighbors as he worked and got the biggest applause of all the speakers, including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, when he said there will be football in 2011.

“What makes all of these builds special is we bring the whole organization out and it’s a great bonding experience. And this community is a vibrant community. It’s really going up, so it’s important to support it.”

In all, the volunteers laid and spread 200 cubic yards of mulch by hand. They mixed and hauled 24,000 pounds of concrete, built several benches, a stage and a jungle gym, painted a mural, laid sod and planted six trees and numerous flowers.

As Nicken’s surprised face showed, it was a stunning transformation.

“Until now, our kids have almost met no other children here – though we know there are many – because there has been no place for them to gather and play,” said Miriam Burg, the co-chair of the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council.

“We are beyond thrilled that this new playground will enable children and their families to meet one another, learn from one another, and build a community.”

View a photo gallery from the playground build.

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