Jason Ellis takes his passion for serving underprivileged kids from his Momentum Collective theatre productions to building a new multi-sport court to serve the youth in a public housing development.
File Photo By Shirley Ruhe/Gazette Packet
Open space with a concrete slab in the morning. A multi-sport court at Ruby Tucker Family Center on Tancil Court with 30 by 70 foot Versacourt turf at the end of the day. Jason Ellis, director of Resident and Community Services for Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA), is coordinating this first in the nation multi-sport court to be created in conjunction with KaBOOM on May 19.
Ellis says this court will directly serve the youth in the public housing development. He says the build day is May 19 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with two prep days preceding the event. "We will unload and sort equipment and materials, dig the hole and mount the basketball hoop on the prep days," Ellis said. Then on May 19 about 100 community volunteers are expected to turn the empty lot into a play space in one day by laying the tile for the court and building side projects including benches, outdoor classroom, planter boxes, a small stage and a shade structure.
"ARHA, and subsequently Alexandria, was chosen because of the track record we have with KaBOOM in championing the creation of safe play spaces in the city and particularly for low-income/underserved populations," Ellis said. KaBOOM is a national nonprofit dedicated to giving all children, especially those living in poverty, "the childhood they deserve" through safe places to play. ARHA had collaborated with KaBOOM on two previous playgrounds in 2012 and 2015. KaBOOM started building playgrounds in 1996 and have built more than 3,000 to date all across North America.
ARHA received notification from KaBOOM in March about interest in partnering in this pilot project and had to turn the design around in a six-week period. Ellis said, "It takes a tremendous amount of community partnerships and collaborations to make this happen."
Representatives from KaBOOM, Alexandria City Public Schools , ARHA, Alfred Street Baptist Church, Department of Community and Human Services and the recreation department will be in attendance.