AAOS Bulletin - June, 2006

Cold doesn’t stop playground build

New playground a symbol of hope

Old Man Winter greeted the volunteers ready to build a playground in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side on the day before the 2006 Annual Meeting opened.

“Welcome to the windy city,” said William Burch, president of the Chicago Family Foundation, which partnered with the AAOS to build the playground on an empty lot near a church, elementary school and the Black Youth in Action community center.

The new play lot features a tot lot, a mini climbing wall, monkey bars, and a large slide complete with a bridge and attached climbing bars. The equipment is accessible to children of all physical abilities and is recommended for children ages 2 to 12.

Gerald W. Pifer, MD, (left) helped fill the "Cadillac" wheelbarrow of AAOS President Richard F. Kyle, MD.

“Hands-on” action

“This is definitely the coldest one yet,” said Richard J. Mutty, MD, who has participated in several other playground builds. “But I don’t mind. We’re orthopaedic surgeons and we enjoy hands-on projects like this. It’s a wonderful change of pace from our normal work and it’s a great opportunity to meet a lot of people and help a community.”

Robert H. Sandmeier, MD, was participating in his second AAOS playground build. In his opinion, the cold wasn’t the hardest part of the build.

“I’d say getting all the equipment set up and starting the work was the most challenging part of the day,” he said, while helping secure the playground equipment. “But since we got started, we’ve been cruising along.”

Dr. Sandmeier participates in the build because it is a way to leave something behind for the community. “The playground will be here long after I’ve gone home from the meeting,” he explained.

Richard A. Schaefer, MD, was also participating in his second playground build, but it was the first time he stayed until the end of build day.

“It’s great to see the finished project after putting in all the work,” he said. “And the best part of the build is the camaraderie.”

First-time builder Nader M. Hebela, MD, didn’t mind the cold. “You could say the friendly group atmosphere here today is keeping me warm,” he said, as he stood atop the slide platform, helping colleagues put the finishing touches on the equipment.

As nearby schools let out for the day, many children stayed to watch the build before heading home. Several danced and sang along with the hip-hop music played by a DJ. Between projects, some volunteers also moved with the music to keep warm.

Volunteers also took periodic breaks in the warming tent, where they enjoyed a variety of food, treats and drinks. They shared the tent with Walter Reed Elementary School students, who used crayons and paper to create thank you notes for the volunteers.

A job for everyone

Volunteers could choose from a variety of projects, depending on their personal skills and comfort level. Those handy with tools kept busy hammering, drilling and fastening screws and bolts. Those who didn’t know the difference between Phillips and regular screwdrivers worked under the supervision of project managers from KaBOOM!

KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit organization that brings businesses and community groups together to develop playgrounds that are accessible to children of all physical abilities.

Several volunteers were on “concrete duty,” pushing wheelbarrows to the cement mixer to be filled, then wheeling them back to the equipment to be used for the foundation.

“I have it easy today; I have the Cadillac of wheelbarrows,” said a cement-splattered Richard F. Kyle, MD, AAOS president, whose wheelbarrow had two wheels instead of one.

A ceremony to warm the heart

As the 4 p.m. dedication ceremonies approached, volunteers rushed to put on the final touches. They secured and cordoned off the equipment so children wouldn’t play on it before the foundations dried. Then members of the community, AAOS volunteers and children from the Black Youth in Action community group gathered for the dedication.

Burch urged the Englewood community to show their appreciation of the playground by taking care of the equipment and working to keep it a safe spot for children to gather without the influence of gangs.

“I hope the children of Englewood enjoy the playground and are safe while they are using it,” added Dr. Kyle. “I think it got built faster this year than ever before because everyone had to move quickly to keep warm.”

Alderman Arenda Troutman said the playground would provide hope to a community that recently saw two young girls killed in gang drive-by shootings.

“This community will heal, thanks in part to projects like this one,” she said. “I’m so happy that everyone came together with the AAOS to complete this playground and I’d like to thank everyone for being so determined to see this project to the end.”

The ceremony concluded when a member of the King High School Marching Band lifted 4-year-old Ishonna West to cut the large red ribbon adorning the playground entrance.

Thank you

For their support of the 2006 Playground Build, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons gratefully acknowledges our partners.

Diamond Sponsor: Sanofi-Aventis for making the 2-5 year old playground possible

Platinum Sponsors: Kyphon Inc. and Stryker

Gold Sponsors: DePuy Mitek, DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., GE Healthcare, Genzyme, KCI, Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics, and Zimmer, Inc.

Silver Sponsors: Medtronic Sofamor Danek and the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation

Bronze Sponsors: Aesculap, Inc., ArthroCare Corp., EBI—A Biomet Company, Encore Medical, ESKA America, Dr. and Mrs. Stuart Hirsch, Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Hurst, National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses, Ortho Biotech Products, L.P., Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board, OsteoBiologics, Inc., Osteotech, Inc., Paragon Medical, Inc., Richard Wolf Medical Instruments Corp., Symmetry Medical, Inc., Synthes USA, Synvasive Technology, Inc., Tecres Spa, Teleflex Medical OEM, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, and Tornier, Inc.

Playground Update:

City Park, New Orleans 2003

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, many parts of the city—including City Park, site of the AAOS 2003 Safe and Accessible Playground Build—were inundated with water. About 90 percent of the park was flooded; water depths ranged from one foot to eight feet. The saltwater killed or damaged all the grass in the park, and toppled or damaged more than 1,000 trees.

The water has since receded, but initial estimates are that it will cost a minimum of $43 million to restore the park to its former glory. Virtually every vehicle and piece of equipment—from tractors and bush hogs to golf carts and bucket trucks—was destroyed.

The AAOS-built playground in New Orleans’ City Park survived the ravages of Hurricane Katrina and continues to serve the community.

In response to member queries about the impact of the storm on the AAOS playground, the AAOS contacted KaBoom!, the national nonprofit organization that helped make the playground possible. After several attempts, KaBoom! finally was able to reach City Park and get a report on the playground. In part, the report reads:

“The AAOS playground held up better than anything else in the park. There was damage to virtually every other section of the park. Shortly after the storm, a group of mothers organized to bleach and power-wash the playground and it was reopened. The City Park playground is one of the only places in the city where parents can take their kids and one of the only places where children can be kids. It is getting a lot of use. Planet Recess (the equipment supplier in Baton Rouge, La.) fixed a few of the things that broke in the storm, free of charge.

“In the blight of the storm, it is so nice to know that the project you put together is still standing and being used! Thanks again for your support.”

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