I partnered with Dr Pepper Snapple Group and The Motherhood for this post, but thoughts and opinions are my own.
The world is a scary place these days; every time I open my computer or phone I fear what kind of news story will pop up first. Terrorism, mass shootings, murders, deception in every form – the list goes on forever.
That’s why when there is something good happening we should celebrate every second of it, together, in a way that makes those good things contagious. If there’s something that brings communities together to serve one another and serve others, we should look up and pay attention, right? The way I see it the only way to counteract fear and hatred is with love and selflessness.
Last week I got to be part of the Build Day with Kaboom! and Dr Pepper Snapple Group at the ACCESS school here in Little Rock. You can read all about the design day here, but this project is in concordance with Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s Let’s Play initiative, working to increase the availability of play for children throughout North America. The ACCESS school was in desperate need of a new playground to better serve the students here, and through the Let’s Play initiative they were able to provide the students in this community with a resource they badly needed.
As I sat down to record some of the day’s happenings there was a small group of students who came outside to watch what was happening in their parking lot as almost 200 volunteers worked together to build a new playground for them. Can you imagine what sort of impact that had on those children? To see a massive group of people they don’t know, have never met, working hard to build something for them to enjoy and learn from? I believe that the impression of that small moment will leave a watermark of kindness in their hearts, which will one day come to fruition in the way they serve someone else.
These moments of kindness can spiral out of control in the best way possible, and it goes beyond a healthier physical future. Play is a building block of development for kids; it teaches them important emotional and social skills, fosters a sense of creativity, and connects them to this world and to one another in ways that classroom interaction and technology simply cannot. Physical play helps children to forge strong relationships, learn how to share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and develop self-advocacy skills. It teaches them how to navigate this world together, in physically and emotionally healthy ways. By investing the quality of play we are investing in the quality of life for future generations.
According to Chris Barnes, the director of corporate communication for Dr Pepper Snapple Group, the company has participated in the building and/or improvement of over 2200 builds in the past 5 years. Through full playground builds like the one I’ve been privy to, grants for playground improvements, and working with Good Sports to provide sports equipment in underprivileged areas, Dr Pepper Snapple Group is working hard to increase the quality of play in North America since 2009. That’s not all, either; the group is working with other brands to decrease the number of calories consumed from beverages in the marketplace by 20% by 2025 (here is a great resource for that initiative).
The volunteers on the build came from all over the city and the area, but the overwhelming sense of excitement banded them all together. With bright green shirts, purple bandanas, and red Santa hats the colorful crew worked together in small teams building picnic tables, storage containers, mixing and pouring concrete (by hand!!!), moving mulch, building slides and climbing apparatus, painting, sanding, and more – all while singing and dancing. It was a busy day to be sure!
At the end of it all the kids came out for the ribbon cutting ceremony and I couldn’t help but be moved by the reaction to their new playground. They may not know the magnitude of the planning and preparation that goes into creating a brand-new playground, but they do know that they now have a safe and beautiful place to play. They see a place to play pretend with their friends, new slides to race down, and all kinds of places to climb and hang and race on. They may not recognize it the way an adult would, but they see a community banding together to build something TOTALLY COOL that they get to enjoy.
At the end of it though? If I had a dollar for every “WOW!” and “AWESOME!” and “SO COOL!” I heard let’s just say I’d be a wealthy girl!
Build day was one of those moments to celebrate, and so I did. It was a moment I want to keep forever, as inspiration to teach my boys how to serve others. This movement is about learning how to live a healthier lifestyle. It’s about creating a healthier future. But at the core it’s about more than just physical health; it’s about developing a healthier community with healthier minds and bodies and relationships with one another.
This, my friends, is how we impact the world for good. So the next time you open your computer or phone, look for the good. Celebrate it. And let it move you – physically and otherwise – to contagiously do good around you!