August 2004 Bulletin

New York orthopaedists build playground

State society project educates community, hightlights orthopaedists’ role in children’s healthcare

By Carolyn Rogers

Today, the children of Albany, N.Y., have a new place to play with friends, keep healthy and develop social skills, thanks to the New York State Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons (NYSSOS).

On a sunny Saturday in late April, members of NYSSOS joined local volunteers, the city of Albany and the national nonprofit organization Ka-BOOM! to construct a state-of-the-art, safe and accessible playground. The 2,820 square feet playground was inspired by the playgrounds the Academy has built in Annual Meetings host cities.

Construction kicked off at 8 a.m. with breakfast and a warm-up rally in Albany’s Washington Park. More than 50 volunteers pitched in—including orthopaedic surgeons, their families, society staff and various community groups. The playground was designed to promote play for children with disabilities by affording easy access for wheelchairs.

At 8:30 am, playground “Build Captains” donned crowns and held their team logos aloft so volunteers could identify their assigned teams. Teams worked on borders/concrete, moving mulch, and assembling playground components.

Food, music and children’s activities made the day fun one for everyone. A

3 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the new playground’s completion.

Design Day

Local children and their parents became involved in the playground project months earlier at a special “Washington Park Playground Design Day.” The event enables organizers to get input from local children and community members before beginning the formal design process. The children shared their ideas about what makes a great playground, and drew individual pictures of their own dream playground.

Five years in the making

NYSSOS began work on the playground project about five years ago—not long after the AAOS built its first playground in Orlando, Fla.

“As orthopaedic surgeons, we’re committed to patient safety first and foremost,” says NYSSOS President Noah Finkel, MD.

By organizing this project, the society hoped to educate the community on avoiding playground injuries. The project also highlighted the role orthopaedists play in the overall health care of children with and without disabilities.

After receiving an initial grant from the Academy, NYSSOS obtained funding from orthopaedic suppliers, physicians, local businesses and service groups. In all, the society collected $54,000 in donations to support the project.

“Once we had the funding, we got in touch with KaBOOM!, and they took the ball and ran with it,” Dr. Finkel says. KaBOOM! works with individuals, organizations and businesses to build much-needed, safe and accessible playgrounds.

Albany was chosen because the city is home to the society’s headquarters, as well as the state legislature, Dr. Finkel says. Washington Park’s central location gives children from many neighborhoods access to the playground.

Just “do it!”

“It was a great event, and we received good media coverage,” Dr. Finkel says.

He strongly encourages other orthopaedic groups to take on similar projects.

“The main work is securing the funding,” he says. “It takes a lot of work and some energetic people, but it’s well worth the effort. I say — do it!”

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