Food giant promotes playing in Harlem

Group photo of children who participated in drawing their dream playground in Harlem.
Photo courtesy of Odeyssey House

Inner-city children have very few free spaces to play outdoors and large corporations are finally taking notice.

Recently, dozens of local children were invited to Odyssey House Family Center on East 121st Street in Harlem to create their dream playground to be erected there on Oct. 9 through the partnership of Kraft Foods Foundation and KaBOOM!

Monkey bars? Swings? Spiral slide? These were among the drawings created by the children when they got together on Aug. 19, 2010 to help design their DREAM playground. The “Design Day” took place at the Odyssey House Family Center.

Odyssey House is a NYC-based comprehensive treatment facility whose innovative residential and outpatient programs help individuals and families deal with substance use disorders, homelessness, mental illness and medical problems.

Currently, the 90 children served annually at the residential Family Center only have old, out-dated equipment and that will be removed to make way for a new playground.

Through a partnership with KaBOOM! a national non-profit that builds playgrounds and promotes play in communities that lack adequate play areas, Kraft Foods Foundation is providing the majority of the funding for the new playground.

As part of their global week of community service, Kraft Foods Foundation and KaBOOM! will build 13 playgrounds across the nation as part of a broader volunteer effort to promote play and healthy eating habits. Eating balanced meals and playing outdoors are both essential to healthy childhood development.

On Saturday, Oct. 9, Kraft Foods employee volunteer organizations will build the new playground alongside volunteers from Odyssey House and community supporters.

As a way to promote how these two key ingredients for happy, healthy kids go hand in hand, Kraft Foods is launching a Facebook page in September in which parents can upload photos of their children playing. For each photo uploaded, Kraft Foods Foundation will donate one meal to the United Nations World Food Program, up to 500,000 meals.

Youthful Harlem resident draws her ideal playground.
Photos by Fabian Burrell
Photo courtesy of Odyssey House

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