Nashville --- For TSU student-athletes the phrase “Think. Work. Serve” is more than just the university’s motto. As community service continues to be a point of emphasis for the athletics department, the adage has been adapted as a lifestyle.
On Friday that commitment was put into action as TSU student-athletes, coaches and administrators joined forces with KaBOOM!, Music City Giving and many other community members to build a playground.
TSU representatives arrived just before 8 a.m. and worked tirelessly throughout the day until the project was complete around 4 p.m. There were more than 300 volunteers on site to help build the new structure at Grace M. Eaton Child Care Center (GME) on Pearl St. in North Nashville.
“It was great being here today,” said TSU Defensive Back Daniel Fitzpatrick. “Seeing it go from just mulch and loose pieces to something so great and beautiful that the kids can enjoy was a great experience.”
Daniel, like many of the other TSU volunteers, served as a Team Build Captain for the day. The captains were responsible for instructing the volunteers on their specific assignment and making sure that everything got done correctly.
There were also former TSU student-athletes that came out to help build the playground. Gary Mays, former Flying Tiger and 2009 graduate of Tennessee State, also worked as a Build Captain today.
“It is my passion to do community service,” Mays commented. “One of the things that I was taught at TSU was the importance of giving back. All the athletes, we got together and did a lot of community service projects during our careers. To see this area go from dirt to something special like this is a good look for the community.”
The day began with breakfast and registration. Before the hard work officially kicked-off project manager Naudy Martinez addressed the volunteers. Staff members of Grace M. Eaton entertained the crowd with a short dance performance and then the volunteers joined their groups to begin building.
According to Martinez, today’s playground was the 2,464th that KaBOOM! has built.
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to giving kids the childhood they deserve by bringing play to those who need it most. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, a fact that is having disastrous consequences on their health, achievement levels, and overall well-being. To fight this Play Deficit, social entrepreneur Darell Hammond founded non-profit KaBOOM! in 1996 in Washington, D.C. with a vision of creating a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
Since then, KaBOOM! has mapped over 95,000 places to play, built more than 2,300 playgrounds, and successfully advocated for play policies in hundreds of cities across the country. KaBOOM! also provides communities with online tools to self-organize and take action to support play on both a local and national level.
The KaBOOM! community-build model enables diverse groups of volunteers to collaborate towards a collective cause—the well-being of children—by completing a tangible product—a new playground—in a fixed time period—one day—that will make an immediate and lasting difference for decades to come.