American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons builds 11th Accessible Playground

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ (AAOS) annual volunteer build project—the award-winning Safe, Accessible Playground building program in partnership with KaBOOM!—has provided an opportunity to visibly support playground safety and give something back to the communities we serve by helping with the construction of a safe and wheelchair-accessible play structure for children.

This year,  on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, hundreds of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ (AAOS) members and their families, community volunteers, orthopaedic nurses and Academy industry partners and related organizations are gathering from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Jefferson Playground (4100 South Drive) to build the Park in a single day so the area children and kids of all ages – with and without disabilities – can play together in a safe, accessible environment.  Every child deserves a great place to play and the children of Jefferson, LA received just that – a Family Fitness and Fun Park designed by local children and built from the hard work of caring volunteers.

This is not the first time AAOS has spent part of their annual meeting building a playground.  They have partnered with KaBOOM! for the last decade.  This is their 11th playground build together.

This year’s 4,000 square-foot Family Fitness and Fun Park is sponsored by the Academy in partnership with Jefferson Parish Parks and Recreation, the Jefferson Playground Athletic Association and KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing play back into the lives of children.

Features of the new playground:

  • Rubberized surfaces
  • Wheelchair accessible ramps
  • Safety sign in Braille
  • Exercise stations
  • Extensive amount of slides and play components
  • Climbing and balancing activities for three generations – children, parents & grandparents

“Children of all ages will enjoy this safe play space for years,” explained John Gaffney, MD, orthopaedic surgeon specializing in pediatrics. “Being able to give back to the Jefferson community in a project of this scope, where all generations with and without disabilities can play and interact together, gives us the opportunity to prevent, not just treat, injuries,” added Dr. Gaffney.

Last year’s build was in Las Vegas in partnership with Communities in Schools.  After the build Louise Helten,  state director of Communities in Schools said, “We can feed, clothe and provide shelter for a child, but if he does not have joy, then we have not helped him. This playground will provide that vital element that has been missing; a safe place for these children to play and just be kids.”

The other AAOS/KaBOOM! playgrounds are located at:

  • Magnolia School in Orlando FL
  • Coyote Point Park in San Mateo CA
  • Reverchon Park in Dallas, TX
  • New Orleans City Park, New Orleans, LA
  • Alvarado Elementary in San Francisco, CA
  • Building Bridges Across the River in Washington DC
  • Eucalyptus Park in Chula Vista, CA

The national organization success has led other Orthopaedic Surgeons’ associations, groups, and individual practices to  build accessible playgrounds.  You can find these playgrounds in:

  • Porland, OR
  • Charleston, SC
  • Albany, NY
  • St. Paul, MN
  • Moss Point, MS
  • Shawnee Mission, KS
  • Macon, GA
  • and three in Tuscon, AZ

We commend AAOS and their partners for pledging to build a playground at each of their annual meetings.  Orthopaedic Surgeons see many children who fall from playground equipment and hurt themselves because of poor surfacing.  It is wonderful to see a group that is committed to making sure there is at least one new playground each year that is built to be safe.

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