Ben Center Playground

BrightView Partners with United Way and COPT to Create Playground for Children of Teen Parents

A formerly abandoned building turns into a beacon of hope.

Nationwide, only 40% of teen parents graduate high school. But at Benjamin Franklin High School in Baltimore, the percentage is an astounding 74%. The secret to their success is the community school strategy of the United Way Ben Center in Brooklyn/Curtis Bay, which, in addition to providing a variety of resources for students, their families, and neighborhood residents, supports teen parents pursing a high school diploma. BrightView had the honor of assisting in their noble mission, by helping construct a playground for Ben Center’s tiniest members: the teens’ infants and toddlers.

Ben Center playground
Ben Center's new outdoor space will also be used as an outdoor classroom.

While teen parents attend high school classes at BFHS, their children can attend the early childhood development program offered at Ben Center. The program is critical to the teen parents’ success, providing safe and convenient care and enrichment for their children while they complete their education. With the addition of the playground, the children now have an enhanced space to take their learning outdoors.

Developing the playground was a true community effort. BrightView partnered with Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) and Plano Coudon to create the play areas. COPT CEO Steve Budorick, former United Way campaign chair, led the charge. BrightView donated services and materials and COPT committed $100,000 in support of the project. Vendor partners SYNLawn and Country Springs Nursery also lent their support, along with BrightView’s Baltimore, Anne Arundel, and Howard branches.

Following demo and soil amendments, the multi-company volunteer force installed plants, fertilizer and mulch, to create the beautiful environment for Ben Center’s children. Completed in mid-August, the playground enhances the childcare program and provides a place for parents in this challenged community to bring their children to play. What was once an abandoned building now serves as a symbol of hope.

Since opening in June 2014, Ben Center has helped more than 60 students and 44 infants. To learn how you can help Ben Center continue to change lives, visit UnitedtoAct.org.

 

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