It’s not every day an NFL team comes to your neighborhood school to put together a playground for the students. That’s why there was so much excitement when the Philadelphia Eagles came out to the Comegys Elementary School at 51st Street and Greenway Avenue.
The Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) and the Philadelphia Eagles worked with the Southwest Philadelphia school for the 16th annual Eagles Playground Build. The students joined a number of players such as quarterback Michael Vick, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and linebacker Demeco Ryans in painting the exterior and interior murals, laying mosaic tiles on benches and tables, constructing a large play structure and planting gardens. A turf field was also installed to give the students an area to play field sports.
Comegys School has more than 450 students from kindergarten through 6th grade. The school was chosen by EYP and the School District of Philadelphia for the playground build. The murals were created by a team of artists, led by David McShane, from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
Lisa Wilmer, principal at Comegys School, was very impressed with the efforts of the Eagles, volunteers, students and staff. Wilmer remembers the day when her school was selected for the playground build.
“It was a busy day that day,” Wilmer said. “So, to get the phone call at the end of the day that says ‘Congratulations! You won the Eagles Playground Build’ was just awesome. We had been trying for years to get the playground. We always came in second place, but this is our year.
“You can see the joy in the eyes of the kids. We have volunteers who are community members. They just wanted to come and help. It’s bringing the community together. The staff has been great. Everybody is proud. You’re proud to be a Comegys student and staff member. I’m just happy to be the principal.”
Christina Weiss Lurie, president of EYP, has been involved with this neighborhood effort for a long time.
“This is the 16th playground build or as I call it ‘school transformation,” said Weiss Lurie, wife of Jeffrey Lurie, chairman and CEO of the Eagles. “We’re just so excited to be here and to watch the kids with their big eyes watching their playground gradually take hold whether it’s field or the garden or the mosaic, murals or the playground structure. Now, they have a safe place to be kids and dream their dreams of what they want to do as they grow old.”
The players have been really busy with the OTAs. However, McCoy was happy to spend time with the kids.
“It’s great to come out and hang with the kids and the fans,” McCoy said. “It’s a good thing to give back. This is where it really counts off the field where we can go out and do some good deeds.”
Earlier this spring Vick was playing chess against some of the city’s best players. This week he was helping to paint one of the murals at the school playground.
“I’m really enjoying this,” Vick said. “It’s going to be nice to ride past the school and say hey, ‘I made a contribution to the school.’ This is a school in the community. I think to bring our team out here to paint the school and make a contribution is phenomenal.”