More than 250 volunteers came together with teachers, staff and students on Wednesday to help Slater Elementary School fulfill a six-year dream by installing a playground, thanks to an ongoing partnership with KaBOOM! and Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA). But the renovations didn’t stop there. Volunteers also added an outdoor classroom, picnic tables, a sandbox, an above-ground terrarium and a ground mural of the world.
“I’m so glad we got this playground,” said fourth-grader Sherrod Moore. “Before this all we could do is go play football down on the [open] field and run up and down the streets. And I didn’t want to do that. Now we have swings, and stuff like that, and there’s enough room for each of the grade levels to use each time.”
Slater Principal Dr. Salina Dukes-Walton noted that the school had been trying to secure a playground for six years, and when physical-education teacher John Beliard approached her three years ago with his own project for, “I didn’t lose hope, I just thought, ‘here’s another staff member applying for a grant, so why not?’ ” Beliard fought back tears as he thanked everyone who made the project happen — including frequent APS partner KaBOOM!, which previously supervised playground builds this year at Peyton Forest and Fickett elementary schools.
Beliard helped fulfill a key element to the grant — raising $7,500 from the Slater community — by reaching out to faculty and staff members, each of whom gave as much as $150 to reach the goal. “From day one, I told the students about the importance of this playground,” Beliard said. “The kids have been asking about this all the time: ‘Coach, why don’t we have a playground?'”
Atlanta Board of Education member Brenda Muhammad (District 1), officials from KaBOOM! and SCA joined Dukes-Walton and Beliard in an afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony. SCA made the playground build part of its annual conference, which was held at a nearby hotel. “When I got ready to pull in with my car today, I saw the sun was just shining!” Muhammad said. “SCA, thank you so much for what you have done for Slater Elementary. We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without the collaboration of partners like you.”
SCA Senior Vice President Rob Jardeleza said the group was inspired to help out, quoting an African proverb: “When you pray, move your feet.” That, he says, was a variation of walking the walk. “We talk about what it takes to partner with SCA: a big brain, a strong back, and a big heart,” Jardeleza said. “While you’re working on this through the day, you’re kind of keeping your head down, and you’re just getting it done. But then to pull your head up at the end of the afternoon, you look around and see it happen. I can’t express the level of fulfillment from this. We’ve gotten out more than we’ve put in, I can tell you that.”
Surgical Care Affiliates, with its affiliated physicians and partners, is committed to delivering high quality surgical services to ensure a superior patient experience and clinical outcome. One of the largest providers of specialty surgical services, SCA operates more than 130 ambulatory surgery centers and surgical hospitals across the country with more than 2,000 physician partners.