Dwyane Wade’s Wade’s World Foundation, Nickelodeon and the Willie Mae Morris Empowerment Center hosted the Worldwide Day of Play on Chicago’s South Side. The excitement in the children’s eyes was infectious. Imagine being an 8-year-old ready to have massive amounts of fun on the Worldwide Day of Play. This day was dedicated to fun. The South Side was brimming with the happy voices of children.
The day started off overcast with a threat of rain but that didn’t discourage the attendance. At least ten full school busses were parked outside of the gated event filled with children ready to play. Once the gates were open, the fun started. Free food, t-shirts and games were given to the youth. Nickelodeon created a play land in the middle of an abandoned lot that had everything from a jumping games, slides, and the infamous slime machines. The Ninja Turtles were even there to add to the entertainment.
We spoke with Dasia O’Neal, a student at Frazier Prep, and asked how she felt about the experience. “This is fun and exciting; this is my first time here and I am having so much fun. I like all the different kinds of things they have for us to do and all the food they give us to eat. I had a great time and hopefully they will come back,” she said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Senator Dick Durbin were present. They both spoke on the crime in the city and how events like this bring the community together and help to curb the violence.
Wade had a few words after his Wade’s World Foundation was given a $10K donation from Nickelodeon. “We want to make this community better. When I signed with the Chicago Bulls, I didn’t know why I did it. Now I understand my purpose here. My mother always told me my life is bigger than basketball. I would say basketball is it, but now I see that me and my family have been blessed with these riches to be able to do things for my community,” he said.
The day was capped off with a tour of The Willie Mae Morris Empowerment Center. The center will serve as an outlet and safe haven for the youth of the community. It provides access to basketball, designing, computer and construction workshops.