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KaBOOM! Build Brings Out Hundreds

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By April Flowers

At nine in the morning it was only a dirt lot, but by the early afternoon out of the dirt a playground had been built.

KaBOOM! and Albertsons grocery stores, along with plenty of volunteers, came out to the westside of San Bernardino to give the children a safe place to play.  The volunteers ranged from all ages and backgrounds, but they were all there for one reason.

Delmann Heights, a low income community had a run down playground and few resources; however, this event gave the people of this community a chance to demonstrate the power of unity.  It also highlighted that Delmann Heights is not a forgotten community, that it is not a community that has lost hope.

5th Ward councilman Rikke Van Johnson cuts ribbon on new park.

It is important that the kids in the community have a safe place to play and grow.  The old playground was too dangerous for the children to play on but the new playground will be a safe place for the children to be active.  And more importantly, it is a place for the children to stay out of trouble.

KaBOOM! is a non-profit organization devoted to finding new and creative ways for youth to become active.  Their motto, "It starts with a playground," held true on July 30th.  The playground is the beginning of a new image for the community.

"It's not about building a playground; it's about changing a community," said Third Ward Councilman Tobin Brinker who came out on his birthday to show his support for this cause.

That is exactly what he and others, like Councilman, Rikke Van Johnson are trying to do.  They are building this community by repaving the parking lot of the Boys and Girls Club Delmann Heights Community Center and planting about 20 trees in the park behind the center.

"Even though there is something positive here, there is still 20 acres that need attention," Van Johnson said.

He indicated, the football field and the baseball diamond are areas that still need work.  "But the construction of the new playground is a step in the right direction for the community," he said.

The new playground is also a chance for people all over the Inland Empire to encourage the community around the Delmann Heights center.

"When the kids see this many people come out to their community, it shows that people care about them," said A. Majadi, the Boys & Girls Club of San Bernardino Chief Professional Officer.  "People care enough about them and their community to erect a $70,000 playground."

Just that morning Inland Communities Corp. brought a check to help fund the new playground.  Inland Empire Job Corps Center had brought a bus full of volunteers to shovel, rake and do what needed to be done.  Martha Martinez had come all the way from Cathedral City to help.  She heard about the building of the new playground from her local Albertson's and the Step Beyond Gold program.

The goal of the program is to raise up to a million dollars and support the athletes of today and tomorrow.  They are supporters of USA Women's National Water Polo, USA Softball Women's National Team, U.S. Women's National Soccer Team and USA Women's National Volleyball Team.  Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon, former Olympic volleyball player for the USA women's team, was more than happy to come and help at this event.

"It's always nice to give children a safe place to play," McCutcheon said.  "Every child should have that."

With her help and the help of hundreds of other volunteers, including  Mayor Pat Morris of San Bernardino, the children who live in the surrounding community now have a safe place in which to play.

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