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NETS GM King Pitches Education on the Playground

September 19, 2011

BROOKLYN, N.Y.Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly refurbished playground at PS 276 in Brooklyn kicked off with NETS GM Billy King speaking to the assembled students about the importance of education, and play's role in it. The project was undertaken along with Out2Play.

On Monday, the students at P.S. 276 in Brooklyn’s Canarsie neighborhood were eager to reveal the mural overlooking their newly refurbished playground. So eager that, when joining Nets General Manager Billy King in pulling the ropes, they toppled the podium at center stage.

(It survived.)

“I’m feeling exhilaration, total exhilaration for all the children” said Yasmine Fidelia, the school’s principal. “I’m so thankful to the Barclays Nets Community Alliance for granting the children the opportunity to have this renovation. They didn’t have much to play with before this was just not even blacktop. And now, they’ve got stations, they’ve got a new basketball court, they’ve got a new track on which they can run. Excellent. Absolutely excellent.”

Once a narrow blacktop corridor crammed between the brick school building and a few auxiliary structures, the playground now features a painted track, hopscotch and 4-square layouts, along with chess tables, benches, a jungle-gym and a basketball court flanked by full-size, reinforced hoops. The initiative was undertaken by the Barclays Nets Community Alliance, in conjuction with Out2Play, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to building and refurbishing playgrounds throughout the New York City public school system.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off with King speaking to the assembled students and many of their fathers, as part of a “Dads Take Your Child to Work Day” about the importance of education, and play’s role in it. King told of his youth participation in basketball camp, and how that his improvement as a basketball player eventually enabled him to attend Duke University, where he gained the education, skills and connections that helped him find success as an NBA executive.

“I think everybody grew up playing, and playing a sport whether it be basketball, baseball or just running around getting exercise,” King said, afterward. “I think it’s more important now that kids get out instead of staying inside with all the computer games, that they get a chance to run around and exercise, because then they’ll become productive and I think that helps with education as well.”

Vidalia followed and spoke of the commitment various members of her staff and the supporting organizations showed in completing a project that officially began in June. Substitute art teacher Stafford Gaynor, who painted the mural, earned special commendation for returning to work a week after suffering a heart attack. He wanted to ensure everything was finished in time for Monday’s ceremony.

The playground project was the seventh to be sponsored by the Barclays Nets Community Alliance this year, and 22nd overall. The BNCA is the largest private sponsor of Out2Play, which has completed a total of 155 playgrounds at public schools throughout New York City.

“Out2Play is a public-private partnership model, so we get public funding for the construction of the playground, and all of the soft costs the architect fees, the overhead and everything is covered by the corporate sector,” explained Sarah Gilbert, the program administrator for Out2Play. “The Barclays Nets Community Alliance has been our No. 1 corporate sponsor in terms of covering those private costs. Yasmine did a great job. She is just an amazing organizer. This is really great; just an excellent, excellent event.”


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