Blue Cross workers build playgrounds for children

Employees of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island create a playground for children at Children's Friend head start in Providence. (WJAR)

More than 600 Blue Cross employees didn't show up at the office Friday. That’s because they were out in various Rhode Island communities volunteering.

Dozens of employees signed up to be “playground crashers” at one of three early learning centers in the Ocean State.

"I say every year, it's like the first day of school. We're super excited," said Stephanie Vito, who works in grievances and appeals at BCBS.

At the Children’s Friend Head Start site in Providence, she was one of two project managers working to turn a concrete play area into a bona fide playground.

"Some of the work we do is clearly connected to health, You look at the playgrounds we’re doing," said Kim Keck, president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island. "Fun, safe, you know, gives kids opportunities that they might not otherwise have the kinds of simple things that some others take for granted."

"The whole concept behind it was to get kids more active and more involved," said Dominique Pires, who along with Vito managed this particular project.

"We traced everything out, got ready so as soon as we got here we were ready," said Vito.

A colorful playground will feature a tricycle track.

"We're painting things on the wall so they can play games,” said Pires. “We have storage boxes, cleaning up their garden."

BCBS partnered with the Local Initiatives Support Corp. on the three playground projects as part of LISC’'s Outdoor Play Interventions Pilot Project.

"It's fun. It's vibrant. It's lively. It's exactly what kids need and what kids deserve,"said Jeanne Cola with LISC.

In all, 4,000 employee hours were used at 13 different sites throughout Rhode Island.

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