Playground # 6

May 27, 2010

The following is from Amway Corporate Citizenship Intern and guest blogger Michelle Asmara.

Without a playground, where would our fathers have taught us to swing or to make it across the monkey bars?  Where would TJ and Spinelli (Recess) have rebelled against unfair social norms and celebrated their individuality?  Where would Gracie Hart (Miss Congeniality) have learned to stand up for herself and knock out a bully?  Exactly – I don’t know either.

Without a playground, where would our fathers have taught us to swing or to make it across the monkey bars?  Where would TJ and Spinelli (Recess) have rebelled against unfair social norms and celebrated their individuality?  Where would Gracie Hart (Miss Congeniality) have learned to stand up for herself and knock out a bully?  Exactly – I don’t know either.

We at Amway recognize that a playground is an integral part of childhood, so last Friday we made sure one more community had access to one.  Led by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization, 120 Amway employees, along with 40 more volunteers from the Black Hills community and the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department, transformed the smattering of trees and grass that previously characterized Kensington Park in Grand Rapids, Mich. into a whimsical play area, complete with playground equipment to climb, board games beautifully painted on picnic tables to challenge the mind, and even a stage area to call all future starlets and rock stars.

I have to say, there’s nothing quite like creating something magnificent while working side by side with truly dedicated colleagues and community residents, and the fact that the playground was actually designed by the neighborhood kids made it that much more special. Teams under the leadership of KaBOOM! staff did everything from rebuilding picnic tables, to assembling a jungle gym, to hauling hundreds of pounds of mulch, to clearing brush, to creating fantastic decorative murals.

At the end of the day, when the park was almost complete, a mom approached the picnic table where I sat across from her daughter painting a backgammon board.  “Wow, the kids are really going to love this,” she breathed looking around at the work we’d done.  I smiled at her with gratitude.  After all, that was what this playground build was all about: the kids.

For us at Amway, it’s not “corporate citizenship” or “CSR” or even simply “philanthropy.”  It’s not about labels or coverage or awards; about good PR or meeting a quota.  It’s about the excited smiles, the wondering eyes, the laughs and the joy.  It’s about campaigning for children’s right to be children, about enriching their lives, child by child – One by One.

For us, it’s just another awesome day!  And for me – a new intern in my second week – it was a wonderful start to what I’m sure is bound to be an amazing, rewarding summer.

Click here to see volunteers in action!





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