New Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox will participate in his first Playground Build

Charlotte’s annual Playground Build is celebrating a remarkable anniversary – a 15th straight year of corporate leaders building playgrounds for local children. Charlotte is the only citythat has continued the playground building initiative kicked off through the Business Strengthening America program in 2002.


This year’s Playground Build will be the first for new Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox, who will join more than 150 volunteers from participating businesses in building the new playground at J.H. Gunn Elementary School in east Charlotte.


The project is led by Hands On Charlotte, the volunteer arm of United Way of Central Carolinas. This year’s lead sponsors are Red Ventures and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA). CRVA CEO Tom Murray is the Honorary Build Co-Chairman, along with Turner Construction Vice President & General Manager Kevin Jenkins.


“The Charlotte Playground Build is magic from start to finish,” said Murray. “It’s truly rewarding to see the groundswell of support and hard work from the corporate community as we join together in creating a space that students can’t wait to experience. This day full of camaraderie and dedication makes lasting memories for the students and staff who will benefit from this playground for years to come.”


Bob Young, Hands On Charlotte’s director of volunteer strategy & planning, added, “Hands On Charlotte is proud to have been involved in planning and organizing the Playground Build for the past five years. Volunteer mobilization is our strength, and engaging volunteers to ensure that children have a safe, fun place for exercise meshes perfectly with United Way’s mission of improving health and wellness for individuals and families throughout our community.”


Throughout the school day, J.H. Gunn students will monitor progress and cheer on the enthusiastic volunteers, who consist of Charlotte’s top business leaders as well as community and school leadership. By 2:00 pm, a brand new, state-of-the-art playground will be completed for the children who attend the school and the families who live in the neighborhoods around it.


J.H. Gunn’s history extends back to 1923, when a four-room wood-frame school called Clear Creek Colored Union High School was built on what was then the county’s rural east side. In 1947, the name of the school was changed to J. H. Gunn in honor of James Henry “Jimmie” Gunn, music and math teacher and temporary principal, as a memorial to his years of service as an educator. Following CMS desegregation and a brief period when the site housed Northeast Junior High School, the surrounding community rallied in 1976 to have a new, integrated elementary school named after Gunn.


15 Years of Building Playgrounds

2003 – Progress Park

(note: CMS partnership began in 2004)

2004 – Idlewild Elementary School

2005 – Thomasboro Elementary School

2006 – Reid Park Elementary School

2007 – Piney Grove Elementary School

2008 – Devonshire Elementary School

2009 – Bruns Avenue Elementary School

2010 – Pawtuckett Elementary School

2011 – Winding Springs Elementary School

2012 – Paw Creek Elementary School

2013 – Hidden Valley Elementary School

2014 – Shamrock Gardens Elementary School

2015 – Highland Renaissance Academy

2016 – Blythe Elementary School

2017 – J.H. Gunn Elementary School