Hats and mittens were pulled tight to fend off the freezing March air. Coffee was flowing. By 8:30am the buoyant crowd of more than 400 volunteers was at work. They would build a safe playground for the kids and families of Chicago’s St. Sabina Church in one day. The south side church is a neighborhood anchor in the city’s Auburn Gresham community.

Employees from Illinois Bone & Joint Institute were among the volunteers doing whatever it took – shoveling mulch, assembling slides and swings and providing hot drinks. The project helped kickoff the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) 2013 convention. IBJI was a major event sponsor.

Leon Benson, MD, an IBJI-Glenview hand surgeon, explained the IBJI team’s commitment.

“As orthopedic and rehab specialists, we see playground injuries way too often. Many could be prevented with safe playground materials. That’s why we’re here.”

IBJI’s Director of Rehabilitation, Andre Blom, added, “Playgrounds give kids the chance to build balance, flexibility and strength. This is going to be a fun, healthy and safe place for them.”

Fr. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church, expressed thanks for the mega-effort that completed the playground in one day saying, “Last fall, kids from this neighborhood drew the playground of their dreams. Now it’s happening. This is a safe haven for our kids and we’re grateful for the efforts of everyone here today.”

Each year more than 220,000 kids require medical attention for playground injuries. The most common injury is a fall from the monkey bars.