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Great Lakes Bulletin

Navy joins with community to build playground

More than 400 local community members, including more than 15 Sailors, braved the cold and harsh rainy day to build a playground at LEARN 10 Charter School (formerly Howard Yeager Elementary) in North Chicago June 21.

The build, which has become an annual summer tradition across the Great Lakes community, was done in just one day, and brought together Sailors from Naval Station Great Lakes (NSGL), AbbVie Pharmaceutical employees, and North Chicago Community Partner members, who all worked together under the guidance of KaBOOM! playground builders.

“The playground is beyond expectations,” said Jennifer Grumhaus, North Chicago Community Partners executive director. “We had unbelievably uncooperative weather today. It rained the entire time, and no one really seemed to mind. Everyone just kept working.”

The build started at 7 a.m., with the Sailors from various NSGL commands showing up first to get all of the supplies laid out in their correct positions. At about 10 a.m., the rest of the volunteers, all from AbbVie, arrived on the scene just in time for the rain to kick in. Armed with only disposable ponchos and sheer determination, everyone pressed on and managed to build multiple slides, monkey bars, and jungle gyms, all from scratch.

“You guys mattered today,” said Cmdr. Omar Martinez, executive officer, Naval Station Great Lakes. “When I was a junior officer, I would look down on the flight, and I saw all of these shirts with different colors making it happen. They were moving planes at sea, at war and it was amazing. That is what I saw today. This place was like a flight deck. Thank you very much.”

LEARN 10 is home to approximately 150 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Fifty-six percent of students are considered low income. Approximately 50 percent of the students are military-connected.

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