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East Bradenton youth group qualifies for $25,000 playground contest

Manatee County School Superintendent Diana Greene is working with Samoset residents in east Bradenton to help with community improvements in conjunction with proposed improvements at Samoset Elementary School.
Manatee County School Superintendent Diana Greene is working with Samoset residents in east Bradenton to help with community improvements in conjunction with proposed improvements at Samoset Elementary School. myoung@bradenton.com

Samoset’s Oasis Community Center youth group fell just short of winning $25,000 for a much-needed playground set during last month’s national Kaboom “Let’s Play” contest, but they aren’t out of the running just yet.

The small community center was in competition with much larger communities and the contest winner was based on online voting for videos produced about the importance of playing outside. The center’s existing playground set is heavily used by the Samoset community, but is 30 years old complete with metal slides.

The youth group is now a finalist in a new national contest sponsored by Brita and once again, the group’s new video will rely upon online voting at brita.com/fueled-by-brita. Voting started Friday.

“These youths are truly gifted and special,” said Oasis and Sozo Missions Executive Director Bishop Freeze. “They are an inspiration to the children at Sozo Kidz, a weekly faith-based children’s club for kindergarten through sixth grade.”

Sozo Kidz focuses on youth in troubled neighborhoods of east Bradenton and provides a safe place to spend time with one another, have a meal, play games and receive mentoring. Activities include helping youth develop musical talents and encouraging them to use those talents in a positive way.

The winner will also appear with two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, of the Golden State Warriors in a national TV commercial. Curry serves as the national spokesman for ThanksUSA and works closely with the United National Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign, providing live-saving bed nets in Africa.

His partnership with Brita brings to light the importance of children drinking water rather than soft drinks.

“We’re all made of water, so make every drop amazing,” Curry said in a prepared statement.

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