LEGO opens Harlem playground for 90th anniversary
NEW YORK -- The LEGO brand celebrated its 90th birthday with the unveiling of a brand new playground in Harlem Wednesday. Kids from Brotherhood Sister Sol joined in the fun for LEGO's inaugural World Play Day .
"So much of the work we do with young people is about finding their voice, and a central way that you find voice is through play, through exploration," said BroSis co-founder Khary Lazarre-White.
LEGO enlisted the eye of artist Hebru Brantley to bring to life a vision of adventure.
"Growing up, I didn't have many shining examples or many outlets for creativity," Brantley said, "so if I can lend my talents lend my voice to something, I'm always down for it."
The BroSis organization once used the strip of Hamilton Place outside its college center to feed families during the pandemic. Now, the interactive design of the playground above a colorful ground mural invites families to take a break from the day to stop and play.
"The opportunity to sort of blend my visual style and sensibilities to something that's very iconic was appealing to me as an artist," Brantley said of his LEGO-themed creation.
Brantley had help coming up with ideas from the BroSis kids, who are already enjoying a new five-story community center opened earlier this year. 8-year-old Amaia wanted snakes on her playground, so Brantley installed tall, squiggly poles that spin.
"Snakes are scary unless you get a chance to see that snakes aren't scary," said Amaia. "They're friendly."
"Kids have endless imagination and it's just all about getting them to dream but not stopping there, asking them to take those dreams and turn them into something," explained LEGO Group Global Brand vice president Alero Akuya.
One BroSis graduate delivered on his dreams to make the project possible. Kofi Sam now works for LEGO and nominated his former community center for grant funding.
"He wanted to be somebody who worked in the corporate space," said Lazarre-White. "We supported him in that way and now he ends up in an international company. He's able to bring resources back to Harlem, really down the street from where he grew up."
Families can find the installation on Hamilton Place between 143rd and 144th Streets until Nov. 5. The mural will be on display until July 2023.
LEGO will mark World Play Day every Aug. 10, as part of the brand legacy.
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