After walking through the new playground at Sankofa School of Success #99, Principal Tihesha Henderson beamed as she considered how the newly installed monkey bars, slides, and swings — courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts — will dramatically impact the lives of her students.
“This opportunity allows our kids to build their gross motor skills and learn how to engage in positive play,” she said. “We are going to use this new playground as part of our efforts to boost academic achievement and to instill in our students the importance of giving back to the community. One day, they will be orchestrating events of this nature in the future.”
The playground is the 13th installed by the Colts and community partners since 2008. More than 150 volunteers worked in high heat and humidity to build the playground in just a few hours before storms rolled through Indianapolis.
During the NFL regular season, Tuesday is the players’ only day off. As such, they use every Tuesday to engage in various charitable events throughout Indiana. From school and hospital visits to youth football camps and holiday outreach, players participate in a wide variety of activities throughout the season.
When the playground was finished, students and teachers mingled with Colts players, cheerleaders, and staff who worked alongside volunteers from Indianapolis Public School (IPS), Rebuilding Together Indianapolis, and Sinclair Recreation.
Other partners participating in Colts Community Tuesday included Lucas Oil Products, Howard Companies, Ingredion Incorporated, Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, Legends Global Merchandising, OEG, Republic Services, Salesforce, and SYNLawn Indiana.
The 2021 Playground Build was supported in part by the American Dairy Association, Coca-Cola, and HotBox Pizza.
Creating a new playground was the best way to support IPS and its students, said Jeff Branham, the central/southern Indiana sales rep for Sinclair Recreation. His company is a longtime partner of the Indianapolis Colts, providing equipment through GameTime.
“It is beyond a privilege each year to see the looks on these kids’ faces,” he said. “In a matter of a few hours and a million cubic feet of mulch, these students go from having little to no playground to having one of the best around. It’s a really beautiful thing to see.”