On an early morning in North Central Texas, laughter and smiles fill the air at Eastern Hills Elementary School as students make their way to class.
For them, it’s not a normal school day — it’s the first day volunteers will begin building a new, kid-designed multi-sport court.
“The kids are gaining incredibly valuable lessons inside the school, but this play space is also going to provide some valuable lessons and learning opportunities that support their physical and mental well-being,” said Jeffrey Maddox, the CEO of the UnitedHealthcare Community & State Plan of Texas.
Since 2010, UnitedHealthcare’s “Do Good. Live Well.” employee volunteer initiative and KaBOOM! have worked together to bring safe, equitable play spaces to more than 100,000 kids across the country.
Hunter Stevens, the community build manager for KaBOOM!, said what makes these projects exciting is that the kids play a role in the design.
“Earlier this year, our community engagement manager met with the students and asked them what they would like to see in their dream play space,” he said, “and what we’re building is the culmination of that dream planning.”
The multi-sport court beams a bright blue with three different sport lines painted across the court so the kids can play basketball, volleyball and court soccer. The volunteers also built benches and asphalt games, like hopscotch, for students to enjoy.
For UnitedHealthcare volunteer Catina Cox, the project hits close to home. She went to high school in the area and said it feels great to give back to the community.
“It's for an amazing cause,” Catina said. “This will mean something to all of the children at Eastern Hills Elementary.”
The new sport court provides a space for the nearly 500 students who attend the elementary school to stay active in a safe environment.
“Many of our students live in apartment complexes and they don't have big open spaces to run, play and connect with others,” said Whitney Scott, the principal of Eastern Hills Elementary School. “This will provide an opportunity for a safe, open, colorful, exciting space for them to come with their families, with their friends, with our staff, to be safe and play.”