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Help needed to build east valley 'dream playground'

At least 50 more volunteers needed this weekend to help build a park in a day

COACHELLA, Calif. - The Las Casas housing development, built in the early 1990s in Coachella, is in need of a playground makeover, according to the playtime experts who live there.

"That one's too old. So, I want a new one," said 10-year-old Arely Jimenez.

Arely and her friends at the apartments drew up their "dream playgrounds" last month. Their creations on paper will come to life this Saturday.

"I hope there will be a swings and a big slide," said 8-year-old Cristal Gaytan.

The Humana Foundation, which is funding the project, will join forces with the YMCA of the Desert, the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition and KaBOOM!, a nonprofit that has built more than 2,000 playgrounds nationwide.

"We want them to have a place to play where they can be with their friends, enjoy themselves, be physically active and get away from the TV and junk food, and really have fun," said Nadia Villagran, communications director of the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition.

The organizations are building a 2,800 square-foot play place for the more than 500 kids living in the low-income complex, plus, a community garden, an inspiring mural and exercise stations for the entire family.

"Every member of the family, from the grandparents to the young ones, can have a good time here together being physically active," said Villagran.

The goal is to create the masterpiece in just six hours.

"We need folks to help build it literally piece by piece," said Villagran.

Kids like Arely are counting on the 250 volunteers needed to build it. Only 200 are signed up.

"It's going to be really amazing, but we just hope we get the numbers we need to make it happen," said Villagran.

Playground construction at Las Casas will kick off at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. If you'd like to volunteer, sign up with the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition at 800-689-4663.

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