KaBOOM! News

Building a community of park lovers


"In 2002 I was a new mom with an active 1-year old son. One of my friends recommended a brand new playground in town. But, when I got there, everything was wrong. The playground was for older kids, the equipment reached much too high off the ground for my little guy. We had to go back home – not something easy to explain to a toddler.

That’s the moment my play spark ignited – why wasn’t there a place where moms like me could rate and map playgrounds? One place that had pictures, information about restrooms, type of equipment, parking, shade, age-appropriateness, and the million others things that moms need to think about before heading to a park?
 
I ran with it. I started out with a column in my MOMS Club newsletter and eventually coined the term 'playground blogger.' In November of 2008, with my blog getting just 30 visitors a month, I discovered KaBOOM! and the Map of Play. The KaBOOM! concept was EXACTLY what I envisioned all those years before – and it was already operating on a national scale!

Since then I’ve worked with KaBOOM! as a local expert to improve and expand the map, make it more mom-friendly and easier to use. Working together, just 3 years later, my blog now reaches 14,000 people a month during the summer. Orange County is a metropolis of over 3 million people, but I've built a community of park lovers.

I'm known in different circles as 'Play Mom' or 'The Park Lady' or, my favorite, 'The Queen of Play.' I solve riddles about where to find the tallest slides, playgrounds without sand, baby swings by the beach, and even where to take a kid who is fanatical about tarantulas and bats. Want to go to a park and hit a farmers market without having to buckle your twins into two car seats twice? I’ve got that covered, too.

Through KaBOOM!, I hope I'm inspiring communities and future playground bloggers nationwide, to share places to play because I believe PLAY is not optional."

– Michele Whiteaker, FunOrangeCountyParks.com
 
Michele has inspired her community to get out and play, she inspires us to build a nationwide movement to do the same thing.
 
Play it forward to build the Map of Play to help moms like Michele across the country find great places to play.

Comments

Empowering a healthier community

"Late afternoon one day, when I was just six years old, I heard a series of loud cracking noises. Suddenly, my grandmother pushed me and my sister down and threw her body on top of us. When we woke the next day, I learned that a drive by shooting happened the night before.

It was in that moment that I became aware of the reality of poverty and violence in my neighborhood. Although my father was addicted to drugs and never around and my mother struggled to raise my sister and I on clerk’s wages, I was blessed with teachers, family and community members who helped me stay focused on my dreams and efforts to go to college. It wasn't until I visited South Africa in 2001 and saw shanty towns, that I understood where poverty, privilege and power intersect and realized that no one should have to grow up the way I did, or for that matter, the way the South African kids were either.

As I grew older, I came to learn that 31 people in my family were in prison, and just 1 of us was in college - me. I went on to graduate school and decided to return to my community, Inglewood, to teach critical literacy to black male youth at Morningside High School and help them experience what I felt when I went to South Africa. At Morningside, I founded the Black Male Youth Academy where I work with students and community members to use research in order to identify social issues in our community and then find solutions.

Two years ago, they decided to tackle food justice and began an initiative called "100 Seeds of Change" where they are creating 100 urban gardens – community, school and home gardens. Our program got a big lift this March at a KaBOOM! playground build where my BMYA students led the construction of a wonderful new community garden, next to the brand new playground in Inglewood.

That day, we helped move the 20 tons of soil into over 50 garden beds that were then filled with vegetables, fruits, flowers, and plants. There was a stage and 9 benches to transform a once unsavory concrete desert into an outdoor classroom that stood in front of a custom mural. Two picnic tables turned a barren wading pool into a pleasant lunching spot. A storage box was placed near the garden beds for onsite access to tools and supplies and future plans include the building of an 'outdoor kitchen' that will allow for the community to grow, harvest, prepare, and eat in the same space as where they play and gather.

Both myself, and my students left feeling empowered at the end of the day, and I know we’ll be able to do even more now."

– Dart Scorza, Inglewood, CA

Dart was already a leader in his community, and with the help of KaBOOM! he was able to empower even more people.

Play it forward today to help us work with more leaders like Dart.

Comments

Building a great place to play in St. Louis


On April 6th, 2011 KaBOOM!, the Salvation Army Temple Corps Community Center and Energizer built a great new place to play in St. Louis. While at a community carnival a week after Build Day, a group of concerned parents approached Steve and John (who had helped lead the build) about vandalism and other inappropriate activities happening on the playground after hours. They decided they right then and there that they will be forming a neighborhood watch group to take care of the playground!

Play it forward with a donation today to support our model of community-built playgrounds which give communities ownership and pride in their great new places to play.

Comments

Making friends on a playground


“Our kids have not had a safe place to interact with other kids until KaBOOM! helped build a playground three blocks from our home. Now they go and play more and through the build my wife and I made some new friends in our area. Thanks. I think you guys are doing a wonderful thing, keep up the good work.”

 – Steve Green, Champaign, IL

Play it forward with a donation today to help us give all kids a safe place to play within walking distance of their home.

Comments

Play for all kids


“When my son was born sixteen years ago, my life changed. As a new mom of a child with a disability I was quickly realizing how many challenges and hurdles we would both face in the years ahead. But my heart broke when I realized that there were no real playgrounds, or any type of place for my son to play with other children in an unstructured way. Play is a necessity for all children, and especially important for disabled kids. I knew I had to take action.

With the help of four other moms we started the Center for Creative Play, and indoor play space for unstructured play that was accessible for all children. Within 5 years we had over 45,000 visitors a year. We started working on accessible playground across the country and worked with KaBOOM! to make accessible playgrounds a reality.”

– Mara Kaplan, Pittsburgh, PA

Mara saw a need and worked to fill it. Her passion for building accessible playgrounds is contagious and her work will continue until all kids have a great place to play.

Play it forward with a donation to help bring play to ALL kids, without exception.

Comments

Spontaneous play


“Our philosophy here at The Goddard School is all about play. We believe that children learn best through spontaneous exploration of their environment. When it came time for an addition to our school we found ourselves questioning the appropriate play ground for this new space, since we already had a traditional playground in our original building. 

We know that kids are attracted to colorful play structures and slides, but the stationary playground structures offer little room for imagination and creativity. We really felt that it was important to find something that would encourage the kids to run freely and to create their own games and fun. 

We have been thrilled with Imagination Playground. This amazing model contains movable parts so that children create and build their own unique playground every day, tear it down and start again the next day. Thus, the play area never looks the same from day to day.

One year later we have had the opportunity to observe what the children have created over time. We have witnessed everything from American Idol stages, to Fire Trucks, to Ice Cream stands being constructed. We also moved our Imagination Playground outside this past summer where the kids added water and their own loose found parts to enhance their creative play. We couldn't be more thrilled with its fabulous success here at The Goddard School located in Concord Twp, Ohio.”

 – Kristina Turk, Concord Twp, OH

Kristina and the staff at the Goddard School have discovered the limitless bounds of a child’s imagination through Imagination Playground.

Play it forward today so we can help bring Imagination Playground to kids across the country.

Comments

KaBOOM! CEO makes Forbes' list of world's top social entrepreneurs


KaBOOM! Founder and CEO, Darell Hammond, was recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 30 social entrepreneurs in the world. In determining their inaugural Impact 30 list of people using business to solve the world's most pressing social problems, Forbes turned to a panel of experts to "identify the leading innovators across health, education, finance and other sectors."

In selecting Hammond they not only recognized his unique talents in building a movement to save play, but also that play is critical to the health and well-being of our children. In fact, Jill Vialet, CEO and Founder of frequent KaBOOM! partner, Playworks, also made the list, further illustrating the growing momentum around the cause of play.

See the full Impact 30 list here.

Comments

Playful pirates


“I was just flipping through a magazine the summer of 2010 when an article about KaBOOM! stirred something in me. There was a deserted lot in my neighborhood that had stood empty and vacant for over 16 years. We had been promised a playground for years – it was time for action.  Along with three other parents in the community, we decided to start a 501C3 and stop waiting.

It started with the KaBOOM! Imagination Playground giveaway, in which we placed 5th! Our group got to work, and the KaBOOM! online resources, webinars and trainings were an invaluable resource. We began fundraising, learning about volunteer management, learning about how to manage a community build – all thanks to the online project planner. We had never done anything like this before, but we were determined to make a change.

This summer, less than a year after we started, a new playground went up in that barren, empty lot. As we raised the mast on the new pirate-ship themed playground, we knew it was something we would never forget. Nicole Distefano, our secretary, said it best, ‘I have a profound respect for playgrounds now.’”

 – Jacqueline Miller, Stillwater, NY

The Friends of the Stillwater Glen Hollow Park knew their community needed a playground, they knew where to go to learn how to do it, and they built it with the resources from their own community.

Play it forward so we can keep inspiring and teaching people like Jacqueline how to build their own playgrounds.

Comments