December 2004 Bulletin

Volunteers sought to build D.C. playground

Building the Academy’s gift to Annual Meeting host city is an experience to remember

By Kathleen Misovic

At the Alvarado Elementary School in San Francisco, AAOS fellows and community volunteers constructed a playground in just oneday before the 2004 Annual Meeting

AAOS President Robert W. Bucholz, MD, (center) joins others awaiting their assignments for the playground build.

Are you handy with a hammer? Even if you’re not, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons needs your help in building a playground in Washington, D.C., the day before the Annual Meeting begins.

Orthopaedic surgeons and their families, Academy staff, orthopaedic industry representatives and community volunteers are all being sought to build the safe and wheelchair accessible playground on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2005. Don’t worry if you’re not a “Mr. or Ms. Fix-it.” No building experience is necessary to help; experienced project managers will be on site to oversee the build.

Besides interacting with your colleagues, you’ll also get to pound nails with employees from several federal agencies who will join the build in support for the Academy’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 program.

“Doctors, and everyone else who supports the project, can be proud that they are providing a state-of-the-art playground that will enable children of different ability levels to play side by side,” said Sarah Pinsky, manager of marketing and communications for KaBOOM!, the project contractor. “The community is getting a helping hand from the AAOS.”

KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to creating healthy play opportunities for children by building safe playgrounds in areas of need. It has created more than 700 new playgrounds and skate parks and renovated more than 1,300 playgrounds and two sports-field complexes.

Since the Academy and KaBOOM! began their partnership in 1999, they have built five playgrounds in Annual Meeting host cities: Orlando; Dallas; San Mateo, Calif.; New Orleans; and San Francisco.

Come to THE ARC

The sixth playground will be built at the site of a new 90,000 square-foot community center—the Town Hall Education, Arts and Recreation Center (THE ARC)—located in the Anacostia neighborhood, on Mississippi Avenue SE between Southern Avenue and Stanton Road.

When THE ARC is completed, it will house a music school, a 350-seat theatre, music and dance performance space, a multi-screen movie theatre and several other artistic and recreational components. It will also house a number of agencies such as the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington and the Washington Middle School for Girls, providing services to thousands of children who live within a mile radius of the campus.

“A lot of these children don’t have a safe place to play, so this will give them a central rallying place,” said Pinsky. “We’ve been able to go back to communities where we built and see them change as a result of the playgrounds. We know the same positive changes will take place here.”

Children of the Anacostia neighborhood have already put crayons to paper to design the playground of their dreams. They shared some of their ideas with the project team—made up of orthopaedic surgeons as well as KaBOOM!, Academy and community center developer representatives—that visited the site last month.

Why build playgrounds?

If you’re puzzled about the role you, as an orthopaedic surgeon, have in playground safety, think of it as a chance to help prevent childhood injuries. Many orthopaedic surgeons see firsthand the fractures, dislocations and other results of playground injuries. In 2003, more than 465,000 playground-related injuries were treated in the United States.

Some of the most common playground injuries occur when children fall off playground equipment onto the surface below, sometimes striking equipment such as steps or poles on the way down. Many children collide with a moving swing, merry-go-round or teeter-totter. Others pinch a foot or hand in the coils of a spring rocker.

Adult supervision prevents a lot of playground injuries. But playground design is also important. Building safe, accessible playgrounds is part of the AAOS’ ongoing campaign, Prevent Injuries America!, aimed at reducing musculoskeletal injuries.

All playgrounds built by the Academy and KaBOOM! feature a poured-in-place, rubber safety surface and ramped play structures with a variety of age-appropriate activities for children with and without disabilities.

Sign up now

If you can lend a hand, here are a few basics: The day will begin at 8 a.m. and finish at about 4:30 p.m. Busses will run between the Convention Center and THE ARC every hour from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and lunch will be provided at the build site.

Visit the Public Education and Media Relations section of the Academy’s Web site at to add your name to the volunteer roster. All volunteers will receive detailed information prior to the event.

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