AAOS Bulletin - December, 2005

Show your playful side at the 2006 Annual Meeting

Build a playground, support Chicago youth

By Kathleen Misovic

On the day before this year’s Annual Meeting, consider arriving early and picking up a hammer. Volunteers are needed to construct a playground in the heart of the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

“Volunteering for the playground build is a great way to build camaraderie with your fellow orthopaedic surgeons in a casual setting while providing a community service,” said Kim J. Templeton, MD, who participates every year and has served as a build captain for the last few years. “I encourage younger members and women orthopaedists to do this because it’s a good way to meet other members and see the Academy in action.”

Children from the Englewood community participated in a recent "Design Day" event at the Black Youth in Action Center. The Day enables local children and community members to provide input before the formal design process begins. The children shared their ideas about what makes a great playground, and drew individual pictures of their own dream playground.

The AAOS will partner with the Chicago Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides community services for youths, for the seventh annual playground build. The build will be held on Tuesday, March 21, the day before the Annual Meeting kicks off.

When leaders of the Chicago Family Foundation decided they wanted a playground on an empty lot near a youth center, they never envisioned the project would involve a medical association and nationwide volunteers.

“We’re excited to be working with the orthopaedic surgeons and glad they can help us accomplish our motto—‘Make a difference in today’s community while reaching tomorrow’s future,’” said William Burch, foundation president.

The partnership began when the foundation wrote a letter to KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization that brings business and community groups together to develop accessible playgrounds. The foundation wanted to know if KaBOOM! could assist them in building a playground in a vacant lot near the Black Youth In Action youth center. KaBOOM! referred the foundation to the AAOS, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Burch said the playground will be used by children who frequent the youth center, as well as neighborhood children.

“There’s a need for a fully accessible playground like this in the area because it’s right in the center of the Englewood neighborhood, close to six elementary schools,” he said.

The Black Youth In Action Center, which is run by the Chicago Family Foundation, offers many services for neighborhood children—from homework assistance, tutoring and computer classes to dance lessons, basketball programs and creative writing classes. The youth center children are anxiously awaiting the playground build and plan to be present for the opening festivities. “The kids are writing greetings for the Academy and speeches for the ribbon-cutting ceremony after the playground is built,” Burch said. “They’re very excited about the project and embracing it as an opportunity for more people to learn about the Black Youth In Action program.”

You can help improve the Englewood neighborhood for these children by signing up to help build the playground. Participants will assemble the playground equipment under the direction of special project managers—no experience is necessary. Shuttle buses to and from the playground site and Chicago hotels will operate regularly from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and food and beverages will be provided at the site. The day will culminate with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by government officials, partners and the media.

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