BCBSMT, KaBOOM! Join Forces to Help Build East Helena Playground

BAM! POW! WHAM! Or, more appropriately, KaBOOM!

Just like that, our employees helped transform East Helena’s Main Street Park into a play haven on a single cold and rainy day in late summer 2014, and a warm embrace from the community made it all possible.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) joined community members, the City of East Helena, Helena’s Playable Playgrounds, and KaBOOM!, (a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting kids more active) to build a brand new playground featuring swings, slides, climbing areas and other activity areas in Main Street Park on August 23, 2014.

Heather Ireland, a community organizer from East Helena, said it was a dream months in the making.

“I’d been part of the process from the beginning, ever since our team took it to city council for their initial approval in May of 2014, and I was involved in every aspect of the build since that day,” Heather said. “I was born and raised in East Helena, so when I was approached by Helena’s Playable Playground and KaBOOM! regarding the opportunity to build a new, state-of-the-art playground in Main Street Park, I jumped at the opportunity!”

The morning of the playground build, the first of approximately 300 volunteers began to arrive at 6:30 a.m. and were greeted with balloons, smiles – and pouring rain. BCBSMT President Mike Frank kicked off the work day by thanking project organizers from KaBOOM! and East Helena. He was thrilled to see how many employees and community members turned out to help with the project, despite the less-than-perfect weather.

“You should have heard the cheers as the teams headed out to their work stations,” he said.

BCBSMT regularly sponsors projects like the playground build, which will help improve families’ health in communities throughout Montana. However, this particular project, was extra special, as the redesign of the park would play an integral role in uniting the East Helena community by providing both children and adults a place to play and be active together.

“I played at that park as a little girl, and wanted the same opportunities for my children,” said Heather Ireland. “Having this for East Helena was so important – play is being lost, and we don’t want to see that happen. The amount of pride I feel is overwhelming and I am so thankful to BCBSMT for bringing this to our community.”