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August 12, 2016  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Good ground game helps Tampa Bay Chabad win national contest for new play equipment


Hebrew Academy parents and student volunteers help spread mulch on New Playground Build Day. Hebrew Academy parents and student volunteers help spread mulch on New Playground Build Day. Kids can learn a lot on a playground. They learn about cooperation, sportsmanship, leadership, independence and to try new things.

Conveying that message in a video, as well as a concerted voting campaign, helped Chabad of Tampa Bay win a national contest to receive a $20,000 grant for a new playground.

The grant went toward a unique outdoor play gym with a geodesic dome design that Chabad of Tampa Bay installed this summer.

“Playgrounds are important because they are like the United Nations for children; they negotiate and celebrate milestones [on the playground],” said a Hebrew Academy teacher in a video Chabad of Tampa Bay submitted in the contest.

The video was sent to as an entry in a contest run by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and KaBoom, a “national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that all kids get a childhood filled with the balance and active play needed to thrive” ( The two organizations hold an annual contest that provides five religious institutions, schools, community centers, cities, or other organizations in the U.S. with the grant for a new playground. All applicants must submit a video expressing why the organization needs a new place for their children to play.

Hebrew Academy student Daniel Mendelson having fun on the new playground equipment Hebrew Academy student Daniel Mendelson having fun on the new playground equipment Ten videos, ranging from three to five minutes in length, were chosen and posted on the Let’s Play website. For a month, people are allowed to vote once a day for their favorite. The five organizations that received the most votes won grants.

Chabad of Tampa Bay’s video showed the children of the Chabad and Hebrew Academy speaking about what they want to be when they grow up and why they need a new playground.

Chabad ran a month-long voting campaign. Their plans involved posting slogans on Facebook and planning out a creative strategy: members asked everyone they knew to then ask five people to vote every day. They even had organized team members follow up on their successes.

Chabad of Tampa Bay, which came in third in the voting, was the only Jewish grant recipient in the contest the year they won.

Co-director Sulha Dubrowski learned about the contest when she visited Metropolitan Ministries and saw their playground, which was sponsored by KaBoom. She said that visit “put [her] on track to see what KaBoom has to offer.”

The playground equipment they purchased with the KaBoom grant was the first one of its kind to be sold. “Swings and slides are everywhere. This [piece] is innovative. [It is not] a typical experience,” said Dubrowski.

“Play is important for children’s growth, and I believe that a state-of-the-art playground will increase the educational experience we offer here at Chabad-Lubavitch and Hebrew Academy,” she said.

Shortly after the equipment was delivered in June, Chabad hosted a Community Building Day when families turned out to add mulch to the playground.

Yet, the playground is not only for members of Chabad and Hebrew Academy; on weekends and with parental supervision, the whole community is welcome to play on it.

The addition of the playground piece is only the first phase of the Chabad’s planned playground, which will include a playing field, an infant play area, and other equipment. These are to come as new buildings are constructed as part of makeover of the Chabad Center.

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