The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and Bon Secours on Wednesday broke ground on a $150,000 Play 60 playground in Richmond's East End.*
"[I] remembered Mayor Dwight Jones reminding us all that this is not a sprint, this is a marathon," said Michael Robinson, a chief executive officer for Bon Secours Virginia Health System, speaking about the revitalization of Richmond's East End.
And indeed, on Wednesday, the first steps of that run took place as officials with the Washington Redskins and the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, along with their partners from Bon Secours and the City of Richmond, broke ground on the first Play 60 playground to be built on city-owned property.
The playground -- being installed on the East End of Richmond at 2535 Fairfield Ave., adjacent to Woodville Elementary School -- is the result of a $150,000 project being funded by the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and Bon Secours Virginia Health System.
The Redskins are just the second team in the NFL to install a Play 60 playground.
"[The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation] has meant so much to us," Redskins owner Dan Snyder said before a small crowd that included children from the community. "We have done so many different acts in the community that are important and we can touch lives using a combination of good will, charity, our football team, our organization and really make a difference.
"I'd like to thank the mayor -- he's been so gracious for us," Snyder added. "We love Richmond. We come here every year for training camp, and, knock on wood, we're staying healthy and making some great progress."
The playground, the plans of which were approved July 13 by the Richmond School Board, will be a state-of-the-art, one-of-a-kind facility designed and built by Cunningham Recreation. Built specifically for rigorous activity, a Play 60 playground brings together elements of the annual NFL Scouting Combine and the television show "American Ninja Warrior."
Specifically, the playground's playing surface will be Astroturf, and its activity stations will include a 40-yard dash with a timing device, ninja steps, floating boards, half rounds, U-turn ramp, sway steps, traverse walls and agility trainers. Signage on-site will provide instruction for the various activities.
"We're here to continue on with the great things that are happening in the East End," Jones said. "We are all about the transformation of the East End neighborhood. We're very happy to be working with Bon Secours on the East End transformation plans. They've been a tremendous partner with us to get that job done."
Also in attendance were Dr. Dana T. Bedden, superintendent of the City of Richmond School Board, and East End 7th District Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille, who was particularly proud of how the playground will start the movement for more projects like this in her district.
"For me it's a great day," Newbille said. "This Play 60, second in the nation, first in Virginia, first in the city, but we're confident in wanting to make sure it's not the only one in the city. It's great unto itself, but what it portends in terms of opportunities for our kids to become more active…is really exciting."
And even though the Redskins train on the other end of town, the organization's presence in a neighborhood that has experienced economic hardship is a sign of the devotion to the entire city and willingness to revitalize all parts of Richmond.
"It's absolutely important that people understand that the commitment is to the city," Newbille said. "And while the training camp may be in that location, that there's also commitment in terms of other communities of these kinds…It's a real benefit and a really great partnership."