While nearly 300 other NHL players are in New York trying to build a bridge between the players union and the leagues owners, Capitals Mike Green, Brooks Laich and Nicklas Backstrom are in Old Town Alexandria today helping more than 200 volunteers build a playground.
Through the collaborative efforts of So Kids Can, KaBOOM!, the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority and Washington Capitals Charities, the 500 block of North Royal St. is being transformed from an old, little-used playground into a colorful new play area in the span of about six hours.
Funds for the S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court were raised through So Kids Can, a nonprofit created in 2008 by Green and Elliot Segal from the Elliott in the Morning show. Since its inception So Kids Can has raised more than 200,000 for various youth-oriented organizations.
Ive always wanted to work with kids, Green said, and I liked to play on the playground when I was a kid. And here I am now building them.
Green, 26, grew up in Calgary, Alberta, the middle child of Dave and Kate Greens three children. When his parents werent carting him from rink to rink, they were encouraging him and his brother and sister to go outside and play.
All the time, he said. I was never inside. We were either playing street hockey or soccer or something.
Thats what Green wants for every boy and girl, regardless of the diversity of their neighborhoods.
They can sit and play Nintendo all day long, he said. You can only play that so long until your eyeballs dry out.
Greens push for kids to be physically active is a vision shared by Darrell Hammond, who in 1996 created KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to saving play. Hammond founded the nonprofit in Washington with a goal of creating a place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
Since then, KaBOOM! has mapped over 89,000 places to play and has built or re-built more than 2,100 playgrounds.
The Old Town Alexandria playground is the second built by KaBOOM!, the Capitals and So Kids Can, and is one of more than 150 playgrounds across the country that will be built by KaBOOM! in 2012.
The design of the S.T.A.R.S. playground is based on drawings created by children who participated in a Design Day event in August. The build began at 9 a.m. today and is expected to be completed with a ribbon-cutting ceremony around 3 p.m.