My first full playground build is officially in the books! Everything went extremely well and I can't tell you how great it was to be a part of such a wonderful and fulfilling project. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful sunny build day (well, maybe a bit cooler)!
The build team that I was assigned to started out the day by assembling various playground parts. It wasn't too difficult and had me thinking that the build was going to be a piece of cake! Boy was I wrong! Once it came time to distribute the "mountain of mulch" all over the playground, I realized how crazy I was to think the build would be easy! Still, I had tons of fun and am looking forward to my build in Washington, D.C. next week with KaBOOM! and KOOL-AID!
I want to take a moment to thank the 204 volunteers (including about 20 of my own family members) who sacrificed their Saturday to help us not only build the playground, but ultimately make a difference in the lives of the children and families in the Barksdale Annex community in Bossier City. It was so nice to have my mom, dad, aunts, uncles and other relatives to support me and help with the build. They really worked hard and got sweaty along with the rest of us!
I've gotten a lot of credit and publicity for the build, but there's no way it would have been possible without the help of those volunteers, my family, KaBOOM!, Community Renewal International and Bellaire Baptist Church. I can't wait to see pictures of the kids enjoying their brand new playground!
It looks like Hurricane Gustav did just enough damage to postpone our Shreveport playground build until Saturday instead of Thursday. I've kept a close eye on the news surrounding Gustav. I've also kept everyone in its path in my prayers. Though it wasn't nearly as bad as Hurricane Katrina, it still did quite a bit of damage. Katrina definitely served as a wake-up call and had folks much better prepared this time around. Hopefully people will continue to take the threat of any tropical storm or hurricane very seriously and prepare accordingly (especially in the Gulf area).
Unless something comes up to delay us further, I'm flying to Louisiana on Friday to prepare for the build in Bossier City on Saturday. The one benefit of us moving the build from Thursday until Saturday is that more of my family members in the area should be able to help us build. Some weren't going to be able to volunteer because of their work schedules. I'm so thankful to be able to support this project and am very appreciative for everyone involved who's sacrificing their time and efforts to make it a success. Three days from now, we're going to accomplish something special for a very special neighborhood, and I can hardly wait!
Ready or not (but mostly ready!), my first full playground Build Day will be here in just a few days. I'm starting to get the itch to get out there and get my hands dirty! I think that once I'm sweaty and dirty, the seriousness of what I've set out to do will really sink in.
Don't get me wrong, this project is based on play and making sure that kids have fun and a chance to be themselves. But as happy and excited as I am about my two upcoming builds helping kids in D.C. and Louisiana, I'm saddened by the fact that so many children are getting into trouble each day due to the lack of a safe place to play.
This is what has inspired me to work with KaBOOM! and why I will continue to help build playgrounds and promote play! People must realize that these aren't just playgrounds we're building – they're tools to help kids make friends, spur their creativity and shape their personality!
I've been staying in close communication with my KaBOOM! project managers (thanks to Adam and Caleb!) to make sure everything is going as planned. So far everything is falling into place. We have a few rough edges to smooth out, such as finding a vendor to provide breakfast for all the volunteers on Build Day in Bossier City, but I'm confident that we'll have that settled soon. Worst case - I'll just have my mom and dad put on their aprons and take care of it! I'll keep you posted!
Well, I'm back from Brazil and trying to get back in the swing of things. It was my first time visiting there and it was incredible! The culture and overall way of life there is so different than here in the U.S. I had a great time, but am glad to be home. There's no place like home!
Other than working out and getting into game shape, I'm focusing on my two upcoming playground builds. My Shreveport build is approaching rather quickly and I'm working to finalize which family members I'm recruiting to help out! I just found out that the Washington Wizards are sending some people from their community relations department to volunteer and help build! I really appreciate their support, as well as the NBA's.
The Wizards are working on sending out volunteers to help with the KOOL-AID build in Washington D.C. on Sept. 20. I know that they're trying to get some of the dance team members to show up too and I'm working on recruiting some of my teammates to come out and get dirty as well.
Talk to you soon!
Well, there's only two weeks left before my first playground build in Bossier City on September 4th. I just realized that the first game of the NFL season will be that night (the Washington Redskins travel to New York to face the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants)! Watching the game that night will be a nice way to unwind after building all day in that Louisiana heat! Football is my second favorite sport besides basketball and I'm excited that the season is about to start.
It will be time for my season to start soon as well. I can't believe how fast the summer has gone by - I think building playgrounds makes it go by even faster! We will begin training camp on September 25th. Since I'm doing my second playground build in Washington DC on the 20th, I'll only have a few days to relax before camp starts, but it's definitely worth it. This year, we're traveling to Richmond, Va. for camp again, but will head to Europe on October 10th to play a few preseason games there and won't return until the 17th. While I'm over there, I might even get a chance to see what European playgrounds look like! After that, it will be time for the grind of the regular season to start!
It has truly been a summer to remember! I've vacationed in France with family, re-signed with the Washington Wizards, held my 3rd annual basketball camp in Charlotte, N.C., and just traveled back to Bossier City, La., to go through the design process for a playground I'm building there with KaBOOM!. I grew up in Shreveport (right next to Bossier City) and it will always have a special place in my heart, but I must warn anyone going there for a visit to be ready for some extreme summer heat! I'd almost forgotten how hot it was there until I stepped off the plane! I just hope we're blessed with some (relatively) cool weather on Build Day!
This was my first Design Day experience and it was so exciting to spend time with the kids who'll actually be using the playground. Those kids really had some great personalities! After seeing their playground drawings, I'm convinced that some of them could be future artists if they wanted to - very impressive! I'm participating in another playground build in Washington with KaBOOM! and KOOL-AID and was looking forward to seeing what kind of drawings the kids from that community could create but was unable to make the trip due to a prior engagement. I had to travel to Brazil (which is where I am right now) to do a project with adidas, who has also worked with KaBOOM! and NBA Cares to build a playground in New Orleans! In fact, it was on this project that I first met our new friends at KaBOOM!. I can't wait to get back for both of my playground builds in September!
You’d think that after building another playground that I’d be completely tired and wiped out of all my energy! Actually, I’m not doing too badly at all. I had a fantastic weekend building the playground for the Park Southern Community in Washington, D.C.! I feel very fortunate to again have been involved with a great project, a wonderful neighborhood and amazing volunteers.
I have to admit, when I first walked up and saw the huge mountain of mulch (about three times larger than the one at our Shreveport build two weeks earlier) that I wondered if we’d actually make it though the build! I just had to pace myself and help put together different pieces of the playground first and really save my strength for the mulch move. Not only was the mulch pile larger than life, it was also at the top of a very steep hill! OK, I’m finished with talking about the mulch… at least until my next build!
I’ve got to send out some serious thanks to KaBOOM! and KOOL-AID for making this project possible and inviting me to be a part of it. The build was special for many reasons. For one, it was one of the five builds going on that day that let KaBOOM! move past their 1,500th build! I want to congratulate them on that feat. They are truly providing hope and inspiration to so many kids and communities by providing these wonderful playgrounds. I hope I can one day say that I’ve been a part of another 1,500 builds with them!
The build was also special because it was the first time I’d worked with KOOL-AID and hung out with the KOOL-AID Man! KOOL-AID not only made such a huge impact with their financial and marketing contributions, but also through the excitement they provided with their name and having their famous KOOL-AID Man being on site (I think he signed more autographs than me)! Just want to say thanks again to both KOOL-AID and KaBOOM! for allowing me to help them make a difference!
Well, I’m starting training camp at the end of the week and have already begun working out with my Washington Wizards team. I think that we have a good chance of making some noise in the NBA this year so don’t forget to stay tuned and cheer for us! It’s back to business but you can expect to hear from me again when my season is done and I’m able to get back to building playgrounds!
Read more about the build:
I've been back in D.C. since last week, working out with my Wizards' teammates and preparing for our upcoming training camp. It's still hard to believe that we're in the middle of September and the NBA season is here again. Before I get back and sweaty on the basketball court, I'll be getting my hands dirty this weekend in D.C. by building my final playground of the summer!
I've already heard that the playground I helped build in Shreveport/Bossier City, La. has gotten a ton of action from the kids in the neighborhood there! I only wish I could have been there to see the first kids playing on the site. Hopefully I'll have the chance to get back there next summer to see them!
I'll be promoting this week's D.C. build through various channels, such as radio and television interviews Wednesday and Friday morning. I have numerous interviews scheduled, but am looking forward to them because it's easy to talk about something I'm so passionate about. I'm used to doing lots of interviews after my Wizards' games throughout the season, but they're usually more serious since they involve my "job." These interviews will all be about "play"!
I'm expecting a great build on Saturday with nice weather and lots of volunteers. We're building the playground in a community called Park Southern in D.C. Park Southern is committed to providing a better life for the kids and families who live there. I'm just appreciative for the opportunity to partner with KaBOOM! and KOOL-AID to help further their efforts by providing this new safe and fun place for their kids to play.
Park Southern, here we come!
Washington Wizards All-Star and KaBOOM! All-Star Playmaker Antawn Jamison is at it again—he built another playground with KaBOOM!, this time in his hometown of Charlotte! Just like the builds Antawn participated in last year with KaBOOM! in Bossier City, La., and Washington D.C., he’s writing a weekly blog about the build, which took place on July 11 at the Simmons Family YMCA. See photos of the build here.
It’s official! The Simmons YMCA in Charlotte has a new playground! I can honestly say that this has been one of the best builds that I’ve been a part of. We were fortunate to have some great weather and even better volunteers to help make the build go smoothly. The most shocking thing about this build was that the mulch pile wasn’t the hardest thing we had to tackle! Putting up one of the major playground frames was the hardest! One of the parts wasn’t quite welded right and wouldn’t fit into the part it was supposed to connect with, but with everyone pitching in, we got it done! Natalie, Lisa and everyone else from KaBOOM! did an excellent job as usual of running the build and making sure everyone was where they needed to be. The folks from Simmons were great to work with – I look forward to working with them on future projects.
Special thanks to Sashia, Candyce and Danielle from my Washington Wizards’ Community Relations Department for coming all the way from D.C. to support me and help with the build. It felt great to see them out there sweating and working hard!
I also want to send special thanks out to my man Billy Phillips from Duke Energy who volunteered and provided around 70 volunteers for our build. They worked very hard and were instrumental in building our playground.
Thanks to all of the other volunteer groups as well as our wonderful sponsors who stepped up to the plate and made contributions. We could not have done it without you! Oh and I can’t forget to thank my family and friends who came out and worked hard alongside me all day long. My parents really worked hard and made me proud!
I’m not sure when my next build will be, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
Washington Wizards All-Star and KaBOOM! All-Star Playmaker Antawn Jamison is at it again—he’s building another playground with KaBOOM!, this time in his hometown of Charlotte! Just like the builds Antawn participated in last year with KaBOOM! in Bossier City, La., and Washington D.C., he’s writing a weekly blog about the upcoming build, which will take place on July 11 at the Simmons Family YMCA.
Well, I’ve just finished with my fourth annual All-Star basketball camp here in Charlotte and I am pretty drained! We had another great camp this year filled with some great young ball players. I was so proud of how my campers behaved themselves, listened to our coaches and worked hard to improve their games. We had some exciting scrimmages that even featured a few buzzer-beating, game-winning shots!
I'd like to give a special thanks to fellow Tar Heels Marvin Williams (of the Atlanta Hawks) and Marcus Ginyard and Ed Davis (from our current UNC men’s team) for taking to time to drive up and visit our camp. I'd also like to thank BoJangles', KOOL-AID and adidas for sponsoring us and helping to make our camp a success!
I’m glad that I have a couple of days to recover before my playground build on Saturday! Build Day is fun and very fulfilling, but it also takes a lot of hard work and effort! I can guarantee that I will sleep very well on Saturday night after everything is finished!
I’ll only have one day to recover from the Build before I have to hit the road and travel to Las Vegas for the NBA’s Summer League. I’m going to meet with some of my Wizards’ teammates and coaching staff since we have a Summer League team again this year.
That’s all I’ve got for now but I’ll try to find the time (and energy) to check in with you after my build!