March 20, 2008

3,000 volunteers to build skatepark and playgrounds for Cesar Chavez Day

By Adam Arata and Caleb Marshall
KaBOOM!

How amazing is this? On March 19 and 29, over 3,000 volunteers will donate their time to build nine playgrounds and one skatepark in 10 communities across California in honor of labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez! All this is being made possible through the participation and leadership of each community, and through the generous contribution of CaliforniaVolunteers.

Planning for the playspaces began in January, when children and teens from each community met with organizers from KaBOOM! and CaliforniaVolunteers to draw their "dream" playgrounds or skatepark. The drawings were used to create the final designs.

At the Rainbow Recreation Center in Oakland, Calif., for example, youth ranging in age from eight to 18 and representing BMX bikers, skateboarders, and in-line skaters collaborated on a skatepark design to convert an unused tennis court into a much-needed free-skate zone. Already well-accustomed to street skating, the youth opted for a halfpipe as the central feature to their new park.

Often viewed as a rebel himself, Chavez would have definitely identified with the skating community today — who are still denigrated in society despite the movement of their sports into the mainstream. As Anthony Chavez, grandson of Cesar Chavez, told one of the KaBOOM! project managers last year, Chavez would've said, "Skate on!"

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