Most of the families at the Jobs Have Priority Naylor Road Family Shelter are headed by young African American women, according to the shelter’s website. The average family at the 28-apartment shelter has two to three young children, and many have at least one child with a mental, developmental or physical disability.
The Rainbow-brand structure, which has a plaque that says "Malia and Sasha's Castle," has a slide, a fort, a climbing wall and rope, three regular swings, a tire swing, and a picnic table etched with the names of all 44 presidents, according to Teen Vogue.
It was first offered to the family of President-elect Donald Trump, who has a 10-year-old son, Barron, but they declined, CNN reported.
The Obamas arrived at the shelter a little after 3 p.m. Monday and pitched in with a half-dozen school-age children painting an indoor mural of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and butterflies.
After a few moments, Michelle Obama quipped, “We are painting in silence . . . Does anyone have any good jokes? Age appropriate?”
Later, the Obamas, accompanied by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), walked onto the playground, where eight children were playing on the structure.
“Hey, guys! . . . It’s Barack Obama!” the president said, echoing one of the children.
First families with children have frequently added play equipment to the White House grounds. Caroline Kennedy’s pony, Macaroni, roamed freely on the grounds, and Amy Carter had a treehouse.
As the president pushed two girls on the swing Monday, he noted that Sasha was not much smaller when the family moved into the White House.
“Brings back memories,” he said.
An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported the name of Caroline Kennedy’s pony. It has been corrected.