Posted on January 28, 2014
Last week, New York Times columnist David Brooks underscored the importance to our nation of expanding opportunities for underprivileged children, highlighting recent efforts to promote human capital development. Brooks argued that while academics, especially during the early developmental stages of childhood, are critically important, more emphasis needs to be placed on building social and emotional skills. Brooks contended that we won’t be able to expand opportunity for millions of students if they are unable to make good choices, build strong relationships, or persevere when faced with challenges.
We agree with Brooks that preparing the next generation for success requires a broad view of child development. Through our work providing more and better play opportunities for low-income children in communities across the United States, we know that children cannot reach their full potential if they are denied the essence of childhood – the opportunity to play. Play is an essential part of the solution to expanding opportunities for low-income children because it leads to active bodies, active minds and active interaction together with peers, family and other caring adults – all of which are necessary for healthy child development.
Posted on January 17, 2014
In an Atlantic Cities article published earlier this week—“The Decline of the Family-Friendly City”—Kaid Benfield asked, “In our rush to promote higher-density urbanism, are we inadvertently creating child-free zones that are inhospitable to families with kids? And, if so, are we diminishing part of the cultural diversity that makes great cities?”
Benfield answers yes—urban areas are increasingly unfriendly to children and this does diminish the greatness of cities. He also suggests that the solution includes investment in child-friendly infrastructure—playgrounds, parks, kid-friendly restaurants, and so on. In other words, we need to create urban environments that enable children to play.
We at KaBOOM! could not agree more. Childhood obesity is at record-high levels, childhood stress and depression is on the rise, and, economically, our demand for creative problem-solvers is out-pacing the number of potential employees with this skill. These challenges disproportionately impact children growing up in poverty, many of whom live in dense cities from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.
Posted on December 20, 2013
“We've always tried to look for things that are innovative and creative, even though they tend to be a little bit risky—a little bit different. As long as they have the potential upside, we think it's worth doing. That's been a hallmark for the organization,” said Bruce Bowman, president of KaBOOM! during a recent interview on CauseTalk Radio.
Joe Waters of SelfishGiving.com and Megan Strand of the Cause Marketing Forum hosted Bowman to discuss the new partnership with imagine toys and the Go Out and Play collection. It features items that enable kids to get the balance of play they need to thrive, promoting active minds, active bodies and being active together. Proceeds from the collection benefit KaBOOM!, while shoppers also have the option of adding a donation during check-out. More importantly, it generates awareness for the cause of play and introduces KaBOOM! to new advocates who also believe kids need to play actively every day.
Posted on October 30, 2013
Nearly every member of a community in New Mexico’s Navajo Nation came together to help build a playground not only to improve the lives of the 2,800 children who live there, but also, perhaps, to save them. The town of Thoreau, located about 100 miles west of Albuquerque in the red mesas of northwestern New Mexico, has been coping with a high suicide rate, ranging anywhere from nine to 29 per year—a big portion for a town with a population of less than 2,000.
In addition to the high suicide rate, “unemployment rates are very high, poverty is the norm, and physical isolation is a major problem,” says Trudi Griffin, the principal at St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School, a private, tuition-free Catholic school in the community. St. Bonaventure reached out to KaBOOM! for help building a place for children to play.
Posted on October 28, 2013
“Words cannot describe how grateful I am by all the work you all at KaBOOM! did for Long Beach. The new playground is fantastic and even better than before! I cannot wait for my little girl to be able to play there. In just a few more months, she'll at least be on the swing set! Again, thank you for everything. This project was definitely the best volunteering experience I have ever had." - Anthony Dalto, Long Beach, N.Y.
Hurricane Sandy struck Long Beach, N.Y., one year ago today, leaving an incredible path of destruction in its wake. Like many residents in the northeast, Long Beach residents lost their homes, their schools and their neighborhoods because of the catastrophic storm. Like many communities, Long Beach also lost one of the few places for children to play: Magnolia Playground.
As many in the northeast would also determine, Long Beach residents realized that in the aftermath of such a monumental natural disaster that play becomes even more critical because it creates a sense of normalcy and provides an emotional outlet for children during a time of extreme stress. So, in addition to many homes and schools needing to be rebuilt, children needed a place to play.
On May, 18, 2013, 242 volunteers from the Long Beach community joined with local organization Surf For All, the City of Long Beach, JetBlue and KaBOOM! to rebuild Magnolia Playground. In less than eight hours, volunteers built a child-designed playground that will serve thousands of children for years to come.
Posted on October 28, 2013
The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum (GRCM) celebrates childhood and the joy of learning by providing an interactive, hands-on environment that inspires learning and encourages self-directed exploration. In the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., a Playful City USA community, the GRCM has celebrated 16 years of play with over 2 million guests. Enjoy this guest blog post from the GRCM.
Play is an essential part of life—specifically unguided, open-ended, free play. The kind of play that has no right or wrong answer: creativity and imagination without a specific end product. In other words, play for play’s sake.
The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum (GRCM), located in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., is committed to play and part of that commitment is giving our guests, adults as well as children, permission to play.
Perhaps nothing demonstrates this idea more than the museum’s most unique exhibit: our staff.
Posted on October 10, 2013
For the first time, municipal and thought leaders from around the country gathered to chart a path to make sure that all kids get the play they need to thrive. Representatives from 53 cities, 30 states, and three countries came together at the inaugural Playful City USA Leaders' Summit, hosted by KaBOOM! and sponsored by the Humana Foundation, to declare loud and clear that they value play. The nearly 200 participants rolled up their sleeves and spent an intense two days on an issue that—thanks to the efforts of many at the summit—is gaining increasing attention.
Participants engaged with an impressive list of speakers and presenters, including Secretaries Kathleen Sebelius and Arne Duncan, journalist Cokie Roberts, Walter Isaacson, author of the best-selling biography Steve Jobs, and 12 mayors, about how play contributes to positive outcomes for children and communities. From building 21st century workforce skills, to reversing the trend in childhood obesity rates, to renewing urban areas, investing in play is an investment in our future.
"Cities are critical when it comes to achieving play-related outcomes because most play-focused infrastructure investment, policies, and programming happen at the local level," said Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO of KaBOOM!. "That's why KaBOOM! created the Playful City USA program in 2007 to recognize municipalities who are prioritizing play. It was great to have many of our Playful City USA communities at our inaugural summit."
Posted on October 09, 2013
In an event fit for a queen, 229 volunteers from Dr Pepper Snapple Group, AmeriCorps and the local community near Seaside Heights, N.J., rallied together to build a brand new playground across the street from Hugh J. Boyd Elementary on August 27.
However, this was no typical playground build. The volunteers and 167 children present for the playground build were joined by royalty: Queen Latifah!
Posted on October 03, 2013
With the school year now in full swing, don't forget to let your kids play. Yes, play.
Research shows the more active kids are, the better they do in school. Not only does being active help kids burn off pent-up energy and focus better, it can also increase blood flow to the brain, which helps with memory and concentration—and let's not forget that exercise and playtime is great for their mood and self-esteem.
"No problem, my kid's on the soccer team," you say? That's great—just leave time for unstructured free play, too. Studies also show that, interestingly, children can get more exercise and enjoyment when engaged in non-competitive physical activities due to not being on the sidelines and other factors.
So help your kids balance "Study Hard" with "Play Hard." Here are quick tips to keep fun in the equation during the school year:
Posted on September 27, 2013
Kids should have time to play - at home and at school. We know that creative play can make kids happier and healthier, but some kids are not getting enough of it. That’s why we’re teaming up with Children’s Claritin® to make our schools more playful!
Children’s Claritin® and KaBOOM! have launched a national program to bring Imagination Playground™ to four schools in need. Imagination Playground™ is an amazing mobile block-based play system that engages children’s minds, bodies, and spirits through active, creative play. By interconnecting the components, children are able to build and rebuild their play spaces with each visit. Imagination Playground™ engages kids in creative play that is physically challenging and collaborative.
Twelve schools in Arizona, California, DC, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington are in the running—you can help us determine which four schools will receive an Imagination Playground™! Just visit Children’s Claritin®’s Facebook page and vote once per day for the school of your choice. Voting runs through October 31, 2013.
See Imagination Playground™ in action and vote now!