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By Jamauri Bowles                Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                     Facebook    Twitter         Blog    
August 21, 2014                          
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Photo shows work on the children's playground in Bell Street Park Volunteer paints a park mural
                                                               Photos by Jamauri Bowles   
Volunteers work on the children's playground and paint murals in Bell
Street Park on August 20, 2014.


Photo of crowd in Bell Street Park after ribbon cutting
                                                                                                                Photos by Jamauri Bowles
This photo shows many of those who attended the construction of the
children's playground in Bell Street Park. They are seen in this photo celebrating after the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Over the past few weeks, it was hard for anyone who, walked or drove by Bell Street Park, to miss the construction taking place there. This week, the construction in the park took a giant step towards completion.

Volunteers from KaBOOM!, Coupons.com and the East Palo Alto community spent most of Wednesday, August 20, building a children’s playground in the park. They called the day, "Build Day."

East Palo Alto’s Vice Mayor, Lisa Yarbrough-Gauthier, Council member Ruben Abrica, and several of the city's administrators, including the city manager, Magda Gonzalez and the City Attorney, John Nagel, along with other city staff members, supported the construction of the new children’s playground, and they joined other volunteers in working to build it.

“Giving our community kids a great new place to play outdoors is a wonderful thing, and [it’s] so important for their health and their well-being,” Yarbrough-Gauthier said.

In addition to the playground, the “Build Day” for the volunteers featured new colorful murals that were hung around the playground.

Yarbrough-Gauthier said, “The murals illustrate that this is a place for everyone to come together to celebrate the cultural vibrancy and sense of community that is a deep part of East Palo Alto.”

The playground opens officially on September 6. But, it was clear that this day was a special day.

In addressing everyone who had assembled in the park to build the playground and celebrate the day, Yarbrough-Gauthier said that this moment should mark “the start of a new citywide recognition and understanding of our kids’ needs, a new dedication to make sure all our youth are given the tools they need to thrive and succeed, and a new enthusiasm for the beauty and benefit of playing -- for our children … and ourselves.”

Bell Street Park’s newest playground is the first one to be constructed by both KaBOOM! and Coupons.com working in collaboration.

KaBOOM! is a non-profit organization that says it is committed to “saving play for America’s children” by creating suitable play spaces for them to have. Coupons.com offers digital coupons to consumers, which include printable coupons and coupon codes. Coupon.com sponsored the playground project at Bell Street Park. The project also featured support from the YMCA of Silicon Valley and the City of East Palo Alto.

Michele Boal, the co-founder of Coupons.com and the chief philanthropy officer for CouponsforChange.org, was on hand to express her gratitude to the volunteers for their hard work. She said that what they were able to build will have a positive outcome for the children in East Palo Alto.

“When you hear all the kids’ laughter and enjoyment, that will say it all, and that will be the thank you,” Boal said.

After Boal finished her speech, everyone gathered for the park's ribbon-cutting ceremony. Even some of the volunteers were given small scissors, so they could participate in cutting the large, long ribbon.


Jamauri Bowles is an intern at East Palo Alto Today. This is his second summer working at the paper. He can be contacted by email at epatoday@epatoday.org.