NFL Quarterback Drew Brees said it best, “Every kid needs access to a playground. That’s what kids do. They play.”
I’ve now helped build 2 playgrounds in my life. The latest was with my new pal, Drew, and 250 others on the island of Oahu in the town of Waipahu where up until this past Thursday, kids at the local YMCA did not have a playground to call their own.
Before I describe to you what it’s like building a playground with 250 volunteers who included men and women from the greatest military on earth, local citizens and government officials, Sponsor P&G, Non-Profit KaBoom!, and a few of Drew’s buddies from the NFL, allow me to give you a quick glimpse at the first playground that my Dad and I built for my kids.
Understand that when someone says to me, “Hand me Phillip’s Screwdriver, I look for my friend Phil’s OJ and Vodka.” I had to call a handy man once to put my screen door back on its track. I try. Trust me, I really do try, but I just wasn’t given this ability. Case in point…
I started this playground project on the 1st weekend of July. It was completed by Labor Day.
On the 3rd weekend of July, I finally had the clubhouse’s first floor framed, but that slipped my mind, when I was bending over to do something on the ground floor in the sandbox-to-be; I stood up, hit one board with the back of my head which launched me forward where I cracked my nose on another floor board. I was knocked out for a few moments. When I came to, I saw stars (not Drew Brees), and of course, blood gushing from my nose. My dad helped me inside to get some ice, and my 3year old yells, “Mommy, come quick, Daddy still hasn’t finished the playground!” Never mind the fact that I was losing pints of blood by the second. She was right; the playground construction may have taken a bit longer than planned.
Now, to the sequel…
In a well coordinated effort thanks to P&G, KaBoom! and the NFL, the Leeward YMCA of Waipahu now has a playground. Time to construct: 6 hours or an NFL Sunday Doubleheader. I learned many lessons while witnessing this miracle (well, not really a miracle when you have a plan and people that know a “2×4” is a piece of wood. I always thought it was “8.”).
Lesson 1 – Invite a handful of NFL Players to help. The number of volunteers was much higher than I had, about 249 more than me (Thank you Dad). I’m not saying these people wouldn’t have shown to build the local youth a playground. I’m just saying that people did NOT help me build my playground (I don’t blame them). Having Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Matt Cassel, Wes Welker, Jahri Evans, Jerod Mayo, Matt Light, and Hall of Famer Marcus Allen may have helped me. I have them all on speed dial now for my next playground.
Lesson 2 – Invite the US Military to help. This was like a day off for these women and men. I took a lemonade “pause” every 30minutes. The members of the military are like camels. They must store their liquid somewhere or they’re just really, really tough. It was like they never took a break. They must train for stuff like this. No worries, I took their break for them.
Lesson 3 – Have T-Shirts made to commemorate the event. P&G sponsored this event in line with the “NFL Play 60” campaign with the focus on getting kids to be active at least 60 minutes a day to combat the plague of childhood obesity which currently affects 1 in 3 U.S. children. I really could have used a couple of T-Shirts for my Dad and me. I’m calling P&G next time. I already have the motto, “Save Jeff 60” with the focus on helping me build a playground, so that I’ll have 60 days of my life to give to something other than building playground. .
Lesson 4 – Have an energetic MC and a DJ playing cool music. Give it up to Kenny Altenburg from KaBoom! (more on KaBoom! in Lesson 5). Kenny had the mic, and kept everyone “pumped up” for the entire day. He’s a great guy with tremendous energy. I’m thinking about hiring him for Cooper’s 5th Birthday party. I was willing to grab a hammer for him. Well, he had someone talk me out of that because he had heard my reputation, but point is; I was “all in.”
Final Lesson, Number 5 – Call KaBoom! The entire reason for KaBoom! is to build play spaces (see playgrounds) to keep kids active. They’ve now built 1,921 playgrounds. So, I’m thinking that they probably know what they’re doing. The idea for KaBoom! came about after someone heard my first playground story.
So, mark it down. I have now helped build 2 playgrounds in my life. The first with my Dad (He’s the man), and the second with the help of the U.S. Military, the citizens of Waipahu, P&G, KaBoom! and the NFL. And, guess what, I now know what a Phillip’s Screwdriver is…It’s a play call by the San Diego Chargers Quarterback. See, I’m always listening to my buddy Drew. I have to go now. My cell is ringing. It’s Drew and the fellas. They need my help again. Play on!
For more information on P&G’s commitment to Child Wellness, visit Take it to the House.
This post is part of a series from my time with my wife in Oahu covering the ProBowl and Community Blitz for P&G. Danielle was compensated for her work, however all thoughts, opinions and experiences relayed in this post are mine alone.