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Patriots join community in building dream playground for Boston school

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Four years after becoming a school, Brooke Mattapan finally has a playground for its students.

A number of Patriots and Revolution players showed up Tuesday to help make the school's dream a reality and lend some muscle in the final phase of the building project. Alongside 200 other volunteers, they shoveled mulch, planted flowers and even got to show off their artistic abilities on a mural. The building site was buzzing as the entire group of volunteers reached the goal of completing the playground before the school day came to an end.

"It's especially exciting how much the players really did," said Kimberly Bartlett, Director of Operations at the school. "They got in and were literally in the dirt. We have hundreds of people here moving mulch and they were just right there in it.

"And, honestly, it just means so much for our kids. They're such role models for them, and for our kids to see that these players cared enough about them to come here and use their time to do this, it really means a lot."

The playground, which includes two slides, a small rock climbing wall, gardens and picnic benches, is the icing on the cake for Brooke Mattapan. Last month, the school moved into its brand new building and kicked off its first year as a fully enrolled K-8 primary school, after adding two grades each year since its establishment in 2011.

More than 200 volunteers from the Patriots and Revolution charitable foundations, UnitedHealthcare and Boston-area residents teamed-up to build a new playground at Brooke Mattapan Charter School in Boston.

Prior to the playground being built, students had recess either on a grassy area or basketball courts outside the school. Still, that was a big improvement for Brooke Mattapan, which had no outdoor play space at its original building.

"It's something that our kids deserve," Kimberly remarked. "They are just so excited. They've made do with what we've had for so long, but this playground is what we want for them."

Brooke Mattapan Charter School was selected for the project by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit that works to bring play into children's lives. In addition to support from the Patriots and Revolution, the initiative also received funding and volunteers from UnitedHealthcare, which participates in three playground builds across the country each year.

As UnitedHealthcare's Director of Social Responsibility Shannon Loecher explained, "The mission of our 'Do Good, Live Well' campaign is to decrease hunger and obesity, so we focus on projects related to food, nutrition and fitness. Play and playgrounds really fit into that. Any time you can provide resources for kids to get outside and run around and play and be safe, we're all for it."

Shannon also couldn't help but admire the result of the day's work. "This is the fifth playground we've done with the Patriots and Revolution, and it might be the best one," she said. "I think it turned out amazing."

Darrelle Revis, who helped plant the school's new garden, also left the event with a positive impression.

"It's been great," he said of the day spent out in the community.

"This is something on your heart – that you've got to give back and you've got to be humble about it," he added. "There are some great experiences and great people that you encounter when you do these things."

In addition to physically helping complete the playground, Darrelle said he hoped the players left the students with a little bit of inspiration for their lives.

"We're showing these kids that you can be anything you want," he explained. "Just strive for greatness – I think that's the biggest thing. And when you do reach your success, give back."

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