SandRidge and Wakita Team-Up to Build a Playground
At 5:30 a.m. on Friday, July 17th, several SandRidge employees met on the east side of the corporate tower in Oklahoma City, climbed into a black Suburban and headed north. For an oil and natural gas producer whose operations are focused in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas, this is not an uncommon occurrence. What was different about this trip, however, was that instead of heading to one of the company’s field offices or to a drilling site, this group was on their way to the town of Wakita, Oklahoma, to help the town’s residents build a playground.
The day of the playground build was the culmination of several months of planning and coordination that began back in January, when Judy Johnson, a Wakita resident sent a letter to the SandRidge Community Outreach team, requesting support for her efforts in raising funds for playground equipment.
“Over the past ten years, Wakita has lost so much, including our school and all of its playground equipment,” said Judy. “The children of our community didn’t have a park in which to play. Our children had very little to do and often ended up staying inside and watching television or playing video games.”
At that same time, SandRidge was actively seeking projects that would provide opportunities for the company to develop stronger relationships with local communities in the areas where we operate. It seemed like a perfect match.
“The timing couldn’t have been better,” said Director of Communications, David Kimmel. “We received Judy’s letter and knew right away that this could be a great opportunity for both Wakita and SandRidge.”
Over the next several months, amid numerous phone calls and email exchanges, the plan to build the Wakita playground fell into place. A key partner in helping make this project happen was Edmond-based playground vendor, Noah’s Park and Playgrounds. Sales Rep Sharla Wilkerson worked tirelessly to help reduce costs, while ensuring the final product met expectations and safety requirements.
“Sharla was great to work with as we reviewed every line item to ensure Wakita received the best playground for every dollar spent,” said David. “She was instrumental in helping ensure we stayed compliant with ADA and all other safety requirements as we reviewed various options. In the end, we were able to reduce the cost by nearly twenty percent of the original price.”
One of the factors that helped lower the cost was the decision to do a supervised “community build,” as opposed to a full vendor installation. With the community build option, a supervisor from Noah’s Play leads community volunteers as they install the playground themselves. Those SandRidge employees who left OKC early Friday morning joined several Wakita townspeople in laying the foundational groundwork and getting the playground installation process moving forward. The townspeople finished the project Saturday morning and then held a dedication and blessing ceremony on Sunday.
“Everyone is thrilled beyond belief to have this for our community,” said Judy. “At the dedication, people began to talk about how to add to the park. One lady is going to make soccer goals for the kids, another is going to add a volleyball pit, and still another is going to put in some horseshoe pits. Our Methodist church is looking into adding a few Frisbee golf nets, and I am going to paint the restrooms and awning. This playground installation has truly sparked a reaction that is going to make this park into something for everyone of all ages to enjoy!”
Research has shown a direct correlation between delinquent behavior and the level of literacy. The more literate a person, the more likely they are to succeed in life. With this in mind, Reading Explorers was created with the mission of enhancing students’ reading abilities by creating guided reading opportunities. The Reading Explorers program is one of the premier volunteer opportunities that we believe is making a difference in the lives of students at Edwards Elementary in Oklahoma City.
The program, which partners SandRidge volunteers with 1st through 3rd grade students at Edwards for one-hour weekly reading sessions, is focused on improving their reading abilities through one-on-one mentoring. SandRidge “Reading Coaches” read with students who are reading at grade level or higher, so those students who are behind can receive more direct attention from their teachers. Since the program began there has been a noticeable improvement in the reading comprehension of those participating.
“Reading Coaches” volunteer throughout the entire school year (September through May) to tutor the student in reading – but the bond that is built often goes far beyond reading. Our employees make a real connection with the students, which enables real positive change to take place, in the lives of the student as well as the mentor.