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Browns build fitness zone playground

Posted Jun 13, 2013

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns spent Thursday building a Fitness Zone Playground for Clara E. Westropp School in Cleveland.

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns gave back to the community in two ways by installing a playground for and helping transform the cafeteria at Clara E. Westropp School on Thursday.

It was the first time the Browns had been part of a project with this scope, as a playground was installed while Fuel Up to Play 60 made a direct, visible impact in the school cafeteria through a team effort with American Dairy Association-Mideast. The playground at Westropp Elementary was the 19th the Browns have built in the Cleveland area, and is the first playground at the school.

“The Cleveland Browns are committed to kids in the community, and today's project is symbolic of our on-going efforts to encourage kids to be active and eat right,” said Jenner Tekancic, director of community outreach for the Browns.

The Cleveland Browns’ rookie class took part in the build, alongside school administrators and students, as well as volunteers from the team’s front office and the American Dairy Association-Mideast.

“It means a lot to me,” said defensive back Leon McFadden. “The kids that didn’t have the same things as I had, when I grew up or had the money, whatever I could do to help the community out, that’s what I wanted to do. After football, I want to be involved in football, but I also want to work in urban, community development. This is a big thing for me.

“It’s really important, once you make it, to give back. It’s part of your character; it’s what you sign up for. You don’t want to be that guy that doesn’t treat the community the best. They’re the ones that support you when you’re playing your game, so you want to do whatever you can do give back to them.”

The visit was especially meaningful for outside linebacker Justin Staples.

Staples is a Cleveland native, and got his first experience of taking care of the community through mission trips within the city during his days at St. Edward High School in nearby Lakewood.

“It means the world to me,” Staples said. “Just knowing that now, I’m in a position where I can represent the organization, there’s no feeling better than being out here. Knowing that I’m making an impact on these kids’ lives is just a great feeling.”

Clara E. Westropp School has 500 students, of which, nearly 150 are from homeless shelters in the Cleveland area. Every day, the school provides its students with free breakfasts and lunches, and teachers often have to spend their own money for supplies for the classroom.

“This is the most awesome opportunity for our children that they’ve ever had,” Francie M. Watson, principal at Clara E. Westropp, said. “To have a team like the Browns, stars that don’t have to have any consideration for little, old us, take time out of their day to give funds to help us have a playground that we’ve never had and put our children first, to say, ‘Yeah, I’m part of Cleveland,’ that’s what the Cleveland Browns are telling me.

“This is going to give my children the idea that they have the potential, that people think something of them. Just because they might be in one of the homeless shelters down the street, that doesn’t have to define who they are. This tells them there are possibilities. There aren’t words to say, ‘Thank you.’ There just aren’t words.”

Generous donations were also made throughout the day from Browns’ corporate partners.  Sherwin-Williams donated all of the paint and painting supplies for the cafeteria, and Panera Bread donated breakfast for all of the volunteers.

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