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All in one day, school gets playground

Volunteers transform a field at Hidden Valley Elementary

While most of the roughly 200 volunteers spent Wednesday building a playground and benches for an outdoor classroom at north Charlotte’s Hidden Valley Elementary, Lynette Homer and her group had the tough job.

They had to paint the entire world.

The Business Volunteer Council, a group representing Mecklenburg County’s leading businesses and civic groups, conducted the 11th Playground Build, in which a school playground is built from scratch in a single day. Think of an Extreme Home Makeover – with slides and climbing walls instead of kitchens and bedrooms.

“It’s always a challenge, but it’s also always a rewarding experience,” said James Mathis, from Consolidated Planning, a SouthPark-area financial planning company.

The work actually began about two months ago, when students at Hidden Valley joined teachers and Business Volunteer Council leaders to plan the playground. They used a computer-assisted design program to design their playground.

And with donated supplies and volunteer help, it all materialized Wednesday.

One of the more grueling jobs came together on the school parking lot, where about a dozen people painted a large U.S. map and then an equally giant-sized world map. With the sun beating down on the asphalt, it was a tough task.

“It’s certainly warm out here,” said Homer, who works at Bank of America.

Armed with a sheet, showing the world map with various countries to be painted in different colors, Homer assigned volunteers to different parts of the world. Even though the “map” is about 20 feet wide, some of the nations are small and required painstaking paintwork.

“Painting the U.S. map was a lot easier, because the states were larger,” said Michelle Laing, admissions director at the Charlotte Institute of Art. “Some of these countries are pretty small.”

Karen Hoover, from Wells Fargo, patiently painted Finland in yellow, then stood up to look at her work.

“Not bad,” she said. “What’s next?”

While the group worked, students and their teachers visited the work site to cheer on the volunteers.

“Oh, my gosh!” one teacher said shortly after 2 p.m., as the volunteers neared completion. “I want to go out there and play on it myself!”

Lyttle: 704-358-6107
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