An empty lot in the Wilson neighborhood of Clairton will be transformed into a playground this weekend.
More than 200 volunteers will gather in Clairton Saturday to build a playground designed entirely by local children.
Volunteers from the Clairton Fire Department, the Unity Group of Clairton, local residents and organizers from KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit, are getting together to build the playground in just one day.
Wayde Killmeyer, superintendent of the Clairton City School District, said the new playground is long overdue.
“Exercise is important for children,” Killmeyer said. “We’d like our children to be able to play outside the way we did when we were kids, but as things stand now in the Wilson neighborhood of Clairton, there isn’t any place for kids to go and play outdoors.”
Children today are spending less time playing outside than any other generation, Killmeyer said. Just one in five kids live within walking distance of a playground, according to KaBOOM!’s 2011 report.
With so much electronic stimulation, Killmeyer said the great outdoors might soon be known as something a little less exciting.
“Children learn from a young age not to go outside and play,” Killmeyer said. “When there are 100 channels on your TV, and there are video games to play and things to keep you sedentary and stationary, it’s less attractive to go out and play outside in the sunshine as it was when we were kids.”
The playground is expected to provide a safe and fun environment for more than 500 Clairton children who previously had to travel more than ½ mile to sit on a swing set.
Killmeyer said this project isn’t just for the children, but it is a way to strengthen the community by getting parents together to build something for their kids.
This is one of two playground construction projects in the Pittsburgh area funded by an $800,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments.