The children of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Arizona didn’t have an adequate play space. When they learned that the Fiesta Bowl and KaBOOM! would be building a playground for them, they pitched their ideas and desires for their dream playpen on design day.
“Their faces lit up when they got to talk about what their dreams are. Almost every single kid wanted a zipline, it seemed to be the hot commodity,” Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona Nicole Kennedy said. “We took all those ideas and KaBOOM! came up with three different renderings.”
On Saturday, March 23, the kids’ visions came to life and the Fiesta Bowl’s Playground Builds Program will unveil its seventh playground, this one in Prescott Valley, impacting over 1,100 kids annually.
“To be able to give back to these organizations and communities, it’s a special time when you get to see these kids see it for the first time. Especially for some kids who have never been on a playground or one of this caliber, because it really is a state-of-the-art playground,” Fiesta Bowl Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations Jose Moreno said.
The Fiesta Bowl Playground Builds Program was started four years ago as a legacy project. The Bowl has committed to building two playgrounds a year, with a goal of providing a safe space for kids throughout the entire state of Arizona.
“These are going to be here for the next 10 years or more and a lot of these communities either don’t have a playground currently, or they have a playground that has been run down,” Moreno said.
“We have never had a playground so we’re very excited,” Kennedy said. “One of our goals is to expand our facilities to serve more children in the community and part of our core program model is healthy habits. It teaches kids the importance of good nutrition and physical activity. They will get an hour of active play every day. This is very great for the kids.”
The kids’ visions will come to fruition when 200 volunteers from the Prescott Valley Community and the Fiesta Bowl Family will come together and install the playground, setting a new centerpiece to downtown Prescott.
For this program, the Fiesta Bowl has partnered with KaBOOM!, a national non-profit that builds over 350 playgrounds a year. Together they’ve built playgrounds in Tucson, Bullhead City and five others in Maricopa County.
The most recent playground built was at ARCH (Arizona Recreational Center for the Handicapped.) ARCH has been in existence since 1975 and serves adults and children with special needs. Their first playground was burnt down due to arson, almost immediately after it was constructed.
“It started with tragedy. They had one day of day camp and I received a call from my maintenance man that evening and he said ‘Kip, the playground is on fire.’ There were five fire trucks. The playground was totally demolished,” said Kip Murray, Founding Executive Director of ARCH.
With a charred playground the kids of ARCH were devastated. When Moreno heard about the incident, he reached out to put things in motion.
“Jose came out to visit ARCH and we sat and talked while the playground was just sitting there in ashes. Jose’s mind was going and he said ‘We really want to build another playground,’” Murray said. “It was unbelievable how it all came together.”
That culminated on December 1, when a new playground was built on its Phoenix facility site. The playground is ADA certified and has many features, including turf and a rubber surface to prevent injuries. Just this past month the children of ARCH were given access to the playground.
“Even after the playground was done, we still had it fenced off so the children couldn’t go back because we needed to install the rubberized surface,” Murray said. “In February, we opened it up and these kids were walking slowly because they couldn’t see what was behind the fence. When they all saw the playground they all started screaming and running.”
The new playground serves as area for the kids of ARCH to develop skills the classroom can’t teach.
“Right now, they’re in school all day so they’re very structured. This gives them a place to go play, explore and get exercise,” Murray said. “For months since the fire they’ve been cooped up in a multipurpose room and were told they could not go out back. The playground is fenced in so it’s safer and the kids are free to run and be themselves.”
The children of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona and Prescott are the eighth group of kids to receive the gift of a playground.
“We are thrilled and honored to be presented with this gift and it’s a gift that will continue to give not only for the Boys & Girls Club but for families in the community because it will be something we’ll be sharing with the city of Prescott,” Kennedy said.
“We want the fans and the community to know we are ‘More Than Just a Game,’” Moreno said. “We want people to know by coming to the games you’re supporting Arizona. The Fiesta Bowl Organization is a non-profit and all the dollars we generate go back into the community.”