November 3, 2015

There couldn’t have been a better backdrop than national “Make a Difference Day” Oct. 24 for DPR’s Mid-Atlantic region volunteers to undertake a community service project designed to bring more healthy fun to inner city youngsters in Washington, D.C.

About 10 DPR-affiliated volunteers along with 25 volunteers from local TV station WUSA 9 came together at Malcom X Elementary School to make quick work of a project focused on creating fun. The end product: 12 mobile “wall ball” courts for Playworks, a nonprofit organization that works in under-resourced schools to achieve its goal to transform recess and “create a place for every kid on the playground to feel included, be active, and build valuable social and emotional skills.”

The building project was custom made for DPR’s unique skill set, and it marked their first community event with Playworks in the D.C. region. DPR currently maintains relationships with Playworks in the Bay Area and Phoenix regions as well.

It was rewarding for all involved according to DPR’s Graham Parks, who helped set up the outreach to Playworks and organize the event. Hearing the school principal’s gratitude about their effort drove home the impact DPR had, doing what it does best – designing, building and delivering a needed project that benefits the local community.

“The principal got up and really thanked us for donating our time and energy. It made my day when she said that when the kids showed up Monday it would be like Christmas for them,” Parks commented. “We really did feel like we were making a difference.”

DPR volunteer Chris Hoffman added that working alongside the friendly, engaging volunteers from WUSA 9, Playworks and AmeriCorps while taking the lead in translating initial design into useable wall ball courts for the school’s approximately 220 youngsters was particularly rewarding. He helped create a mock-up and prefabricated 11 additional mobile courts off-site for easy assembly by volunteer crews on the workday. In addition to about 120 volunteer hours, DPR’s Mid-Atlantic office donated some $2,000 in materials for the courts as well as the various other small projects undertaken by the volunteers, including painting lines on the asphalt playground for basketball and Four Square.

“This event was a good kickoff to what will hopefully be a long-term partnership with the Playworks organization here in the Mid-Atlantic region,” Parks added.