KaBOOM! News

I realized I could give so much more


"It was just a typical Wednesday afternoon in April, and I had no idea what I was about to get myself into. I was picking up my kids after school and heard about a meeting taking place down the hall. They promised a free meal and some entertainment for my kids, and that sounded like a good deal to me.

I went over and found out that KaBOOM! was going to be building a new playground at my local community center. As I was enjoying a hot bowl of stew my kids were drawing their dream designs for the new playground, I was hooked.

As the weeks of planning went on I found myself taking on more and more. Before I knew it I was leading the Food Committee and was walking around my neighborhood asking for donations of food – enough to feed the nearly 200 volunteers we expected on Build Day. I realized how much I was really capable of taking on.

Before this project I was a single mom just doing the best for my kids, but the KaBOOM! project made me feel like I could give so much more. On Build Day all my efforts were totally worth it. It made me realize how strong of a person I really am and how much more I can give, and that is something I’m reminded of every day when I walk by the playground or watch my kids play on it."

– Jesse Chittick, Calgary, AB

Jesse discovered a motivation and drive in herself she thought she’d lost a long time ago. With the new playground serving as tangible evidence of what she can accomplish she’s already on the lookout for another opportunity to make a difference.

Play it forward with a donation today to help people like Jesse realize how much power they really have.

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Chobani Champions tour travels the East Coast bringing the gift of play!


A couple months back we announced that Chobani Champions was supporting our SAVE PLAY campaign by granting three Imagination Playground in a Box™ sets to local community organizations. KaBOOM! is happy to report that the tour is over and three communities in Hartford, Conn.; Miami, Fla.; and Boston, Mass. now have innovative mobile playgrounds!

Read the full story and see the photos from the Champions Tour Bus on the Chobani blog.

Here's a video from the gifting ceremony at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club:

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KaBOOM! was the spark

"Healthy communities offer safe and equitable playspaces for all residents. In 2009, I founded the GoPlay Initiative which integrates community-wide resources to create playful living opportunities and inspire a spirit of discovery. The campaign included school educators, community volunteers, and local organizations that joined together to build an innovative playground for over 1,000 third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the Starkville School District.

While Starkville leaders believed in the value of play it was the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program that provided the needed spark to make play a city wide priority. Leaders representing the city of Starkville, Parks Commission, Starkville School District, civic organizations, and local businesses joined efforts in the spring of 2011 to set tangible goals for investing in play. Organized as the Starkville Play Task Force, our team continues to work towards the action plan goals we have set for the entire community.

Drafted by Play Task Force members, the Starkville School Board and Board of Alderman passed a shared use agreement contract in October of 2011. Now the public has access to Starkville school playgrounds and the school district has additional city resources to maintain and improve neighborhood playspaces. The Playful City USA recognition has brought public and private entities together to build a better, more playful Starkville. The KaBOOM! organization not only provides useful resources but also inspiration to continue as a play advocate in Mississippi."

– Heather Carson, Starkville, MS

Play it forward with a donation to help make more cities playful like Starkville, MS.

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Building a great place to play in Detroit


On August 31st, 2011, KaBOOM!, Brightmoor Alliance and the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation built a great new place to play in Detroit. Just a week after the build, Cleo, a neighbor from across the street, has stepped up to oversee the horseshoes and has already begun to do maintenance checks on the playground!

Play it forward with a donation today to keep inspiring communities like Detroit so they can make difference in their neighborhood.

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Building a great place to play in Washington, DC


On May 6th, 2011 KaBOOM!, Friendship Southeast Elementary Academy and Dr Pepper Snapple Group built a great new place to play in Washington, DC. As a result of the build, the school is going to start a Keep it Green program for recycling at the school.

Since Build Day the community has never been more revived. Everyone knew, no matter where they came from, who they are, or what they do, that they did it together as one. The kids are starting to smile a lot more and can’t wait to use the playground all the time.

Play it forward with a donation today, because it starts with a playground, but that’s just the beginning.

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Operation Playground

"Hurricane Katrina was the most devastating storm to ever hit the United States. The small towns of Waveland and Bay St Louis, Mississippi looked like we had been bombed – it looked like a war zone. My godchild, Ginny Vegas Reynolds, now living in Connecticut, remembered growing up in Bay St. Louis and after Hurricane Camille she and her friends had no place to play. Ginny contacted childhood friends Cheryl Carlson Goodnow in Massachusetts and Joellyn Frisbie Gilmore, my daughter in Diamondhead, a community just north of Bay St. Louis, to coordinate a way to get a playground.

In a matter of days Ginny was back in touch. She had made a connection with Darell Hammond, CEO of KaBOOM! The next thing we knew Darell was here to evaluate the situation. Within days a site was selected, KaBOOM! was getting corporate sponsors. Local children became involved with their playground wish lists and a design was developed.

The Morkin’s home, which prior to the hurricane had been a bed and breakfast was across the street from the playground site. They immediately opened their home to the staff of KaBOOM! as did the Gilmore’s. They were able to sign up more than 600 volunteers to help build the playground. By mid-December the big trucks rolled in with all the equipment, the design staked off and the build began.

It started with breakfast at 7:30 am, then the build was nonstop except for staggered volunteer lunch breaks. It was cold but no one complained. At 3pm the playground was complete. We all stood in wonder!! It was unbelievable! Oh! What a day!

Now, 6 years later, it is still beautiful. I pass the playground almost every day. There are always children at play or an adult just sitting on a bench reading a book or just relaxing under an old oak tree. KaBOOM! has been such a blessing to so many children with the additional playgrounds that followed. We love KaBOOM!."

– Nell Frisbee, Bay St. Louis, MS

After Hurricane Katrina KaBOOM! built more than 100 playgrounds on the Gulf Coast. Our work there continues with 3 builds in New Orleans in just the past 3 months.

Play it forward with a donation today because in the midst of a disaster kids need play more than ever.

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We could do more

"I’ve been fortunate enough to build three KaBOOM! playgrounds with the Junior League of Pittsburgh.  Each of the three days brought its own challenges and successes, but as any KaBOOM! build volunteer will tell you, it’s all worth it to see that amazing new playground up at the end of the day.  And while three new playgrounds is great, at Easter dinner in 2007 my family and I realized that we could do more.

Using my knowledge from the past KaBOOM! builds along with the tools and resources on kaboom.org, my mother, my aunt and myself began planning for a new place to play in our neighborhood.  When the project felt like an uphill battle, and it often did, we reminded each other that a playground is essential to the health of our neighborhood; and that our efforts would make an impact on generations of children. We all need play, regardless of our age or socioeconomic status. Play is essential for happiness and growth.

The best part of Build Day was the volunteers. Their enthusiasm, excitement and willingness to work was contagious and made for a fun, festive environment. Giving freely of their time and talents for a cause bigger than themselves shaped a sense of pride in our community and in each other.

The new playground and the community’s involvement in Build Day sparked an interest in the community to do more. We’re currently planning a Play Day, as well as continuing the fundraising efforts for life-long-sports facilities."

– Gretchen Smathers, Pittsburgh, PA

Gretchen wouldn’t stop after 1, 2, or even 3 new playgrounds. Since completing the community-built playground project in 2008 she’s gone on to build another playground with KaBOOM! and isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon.

Play it forward with a donation today to help support play advocates like Gretchen, and the rest of her family.

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I had the drive, KaBOOM! had the tools


"I have never been comfortable taking a back seat, especially when my kids (Seth, Jonah and Finn) are involved. I began volunteering at Seth’s school when he was kindergarten and I haven’t stopped. From being a room mom to the PTA and even a member of the Louisville Mayor’s Health Hometown Movement schools committee – I’ll stop at nothing to make sure my kids, and the rest of the kids in our community, have access to the very best education possible. Every child, regardless of background can accomplish and achieve their goals if they know that a community is supporting them and cheering them on. I’m just lucky enough to be one of the cheerleaders.

In 2009 that meant a bringing a new playground to our elementary school. I had the drive, and KaBOOM! had the tools. Together with my partner-in-play, Kassi Clifford, and our school PTA, and with the KaBOOM! do-it-yourself project planner as our guide, we built a great new playground – in just one amazing day!

I so strongly believe that play and recess should not be extras or options, but should be a given part of a daily routine. If we are going to have a future filled with responsible adults we need to help create a world where all children understand collaboration, creativity, and cooperation. And I know KaBOOM! feels the same way."

– Myrdin Thompson, Louisville, KY

KaBOOM! supports the work of PLAY advocates like Myrdin every day. From online project planners to trainings and community outreach, together we can work to make play a reality for every child in America.

Play it forward this holiday season with a gift to keep helping PLAY advocates like Myrdin across the country.

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