First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off United We Serve by joining forces with California’s First Lady Maria Shriver, CaliforniaVolunteers, KaBOOM! and community volunteers to build a playground at Bret Harte Elementary School in San Francisco. Without skipping a beat, the First Lady helped construct a slither slide, a color and shapes panel, a solar climber and a babble-on. She also discovered her new favorite tool – the ratchet.
The First Lady told the crowd of volunteers, “Community and national service is something that's near and dear to my heart. It's not something that we just started to do in the White House. It's been sort of the air that we breathe in the Obama household in so many ways.”
Both first ladies stressed the link between service and the challenges facing our nation. “As history has shown again and again, when we come together as a nation, we can really get things done,” Obama said. “Service is how we get where we need to be. And United We Serve is going to focus on a couple of key strategies: one is education, health, energy and the environment, and community renewal. And the project that we’re working on here today has a clear focus on health and community renewal.”
CaliforniaVolunteers is the state office that manages programs and initiatives to increase the number of Californians involved with service and volunteering, including the state AmeriCorps program, California Citizen Corps, Disaster Corps, California Green Job Corps, Business Partner Program and the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning. Since 2007, CaliforniaVolunteers, KaBOOM! and more than 10,000 volunteers have built 27 playgrounds in honor of the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez that will serve nearly 290,000 Californian children.
For the last 14 years, KaBOOM! has worked with underserved communities to create safe and fun places for children to play within walking distance of their homes. Here in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco and across the country, KaBOOM! strives to improve the wellbeing of the children it serves and strengthen the communities in which they live.
“We can’t underestimate the value of having safe and quality playgrounds in every single community,” noted the First Lady. “That’s why this project that we’re doing here today is so important, and why organizations like KaBOOM! are just necessary, not just to the health of our children but to the health of the entire nation.”
"If Michelle Obama and her family and her husband can find time to serve, there is no excuse for anybody else who says they are too busy," said Shriver. "You don't have to be a first lady to make a difference."
To learn more about KaBOOM! and the steps you can take to bring back play, visit http://kaboom.org or keyword search: “playground.”