Play Today

  • Rev Run and JustineKaBOOM! playground builds in the news!
    Everybody loves Reverend Run, especially when he's building playgrounds! He and his wife Justine Simmons, along with KOOL-AID, helped build a great new place to play in Phoenix last week, and this blogger loved every minute of it! In the photo to the right, they're doing arts and crafts with the kids at the build.

    Cruising over to the middle of the United States, our recent build with Mutual of Omaha got some nice press coverage in the Omaha World-Herald on Thursday and Friday. It was also featured on their local NBC affiliate, WOWT. It sounds like a really fun playground, too: "The new playground includes a large playscape, new tetherball poles, a sandbox and benches," says one of the World-Herald articles. "Sand and gravel pits have been replaced with grass and mulch, and volunteers installed benches for an outdoor classroom." We'll be posting photos soon, so you can see for yourself!

    Meanwhile, way over in New Jersey..."Even with the rain, everybody came out excited, dedicated and ready to work," said Monique Reddick, social services coordinator for the Volunteers of America Delaware Valley's transitional housing complex, about the recent playground build in Camden.

    And zooming back to Idaho..."The Kroegers gave this park to promote the growth and development of the community. Ninety years later, we're promoting the growth and development of kids," Boise resident Kathleen Fahey told the Idaho Statesman A great new playground was built in Boise on Saturday with help from Albertsons and KaBOOM!.

    Thanks for the shout-outs!
    Thanks to  AARP and Seattle Stay at Home Moms Examiner  for some nice shout-outs about volunteering and Play Days, respectively!

  • Happy Friday!

    I hope you've all had a great (and playful) week! I certainly have, especially since KaBOOM! has been mentioned in a few blogs! Here are a few of the great stories that have come up.

    Star power
    Diets in Review.com blogged about Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross (Bree Hodge) teaming with Mott's to support KaBOOM! Here's a snippet:

    Cross feels that this partnership is necessary for kids, and she’s urging moms everywhere to get their kids to a playground for a fun time. She feels lucky that her girls don’t need any encouragement, adding, “I just open up the gates and let (Eden and Savannah) go.”

    Also, we've now delved into the world of celebrity gossip! KaBOOM! was featured on Perez Hilton's blog this week as "a worthwhile cause!" Hooray for celebrity endorsement!

    Builds
    The Active 20-30 blog posted a great slideshow video from their playground build in Redding, Calif.! I especially love the quote that was used on a banner, which I think sums up the spirit of the volunteers: "One never stands so tall as when they kneel to help a child."

     There was also a great article in the Florida Times-Union about the recent KaBOOM! build at YMCA Tiger Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., complete with a video from the Build Day and an inspiring quote from Principal Charles McWhite.

    "Being able to have a play area for the children they can call their own, that they designed and can come out and see every day, it just warms my heart," McWhite said. "I can't expect other people to do things I can't do myself."

    Video contest
    Speaking of videos, KaBOOM!'s "Promote Your Project" video contest ends at 11:59PM on Sunday, February 28th! Be sure to get your 1-minute promotional video in for a chance to win up to a $5,000 equipment grant for your playground project!

    Have a great weekend!

    "Today in Play" is a regular feature on the KaBOOM! blog, featuring the latest news on play and KaBOOM! media mentions.

  • Dustin Brown is so close to realizing a life long dream that he can taste it! The KaBOOM! All-Star Playmaker and Los Angeles Kings star is one of the youngest players on the USA Hockey Team, which is in the hunt to win an Olympic medal. Dustin and his teammates will square off against Finland in the first of two semifinal games on Friday at 3 p.m. (Eastern Time). If Team USA wins, they’ll advance to Sunday’s 3:15 p.m. (ET) final in which they’ll be playing to capture the first Gold Medal for the U.S. since the historic victory against the Soviet Union at the 1980 games in Lake Placid.

    Team USA followed up on its 5-3 upset of heavily favored Canada earlier this week by advancing to the semifinals with a 2-0 victory against Switzerland on Wednesday. Shortly after the win, Dustin took time to answer a few questions from KaBOOM!:

    A lot of children dream about playing in the Olympics when they're kids. What's this experience been like for you and was it something you dreamed about when you were young?

    It has been a dream come true. I always hoped to play for my country and wear the red, white and blue. If we could win the Gold Medal, I will be able to give back to my country for everything it has given me in my life.

    How important was it for you to have a place to play or a rink to skate on when you were a kid?

    It was really, really important. I always worked really hard with school, and I also loved to run, skate and play sports. Playgrounds and athletics are where so many lessons are learned.

    How did having that rink or place to play effect where you are today?

    If it wasn’t for the chance to play as a young boy, I never would have become a pro hockey player. I owe everything to my family, and the rinks and playgrounds I used as a child.

    Have you had a chance to experience Vancouver? Are there any great places to play kids should know about?

    Yes, the other players and I have been fortunate to walk around the city and see what a great place it is. Also, we have had the chance to enjoy the Olympic atmosphere. There are a lot of nice parks to play games with friends.

    You helped the Los Angeles Kings build a playground last spring at the Los Cerritos YMCA with KaBOOM! and you're going to build one again this summer. What was your experience like last year and are you looking forward to building another playground?

    Building the playground last spring with the Kings was an unbelievable experience. I knew how many young boys and girls I was going to be helping both then and in the future. I am very excited for our next playground build and hope the city and kids of Los Angeles are equally as excited.

    ----------------------

    You can follow all the Olympic news about Dustin and his teammates from the Los Angeles Kings website! After registering 285 body checks during the 2009-09 season, Dustin donated $50 for each hit to KaBOOM! – a whopping $14,250! Dustin’s at it again for the 2009-10 season and so far, he’s racked up 226 hits for a total of $11,300. You can watch the progress of the “Hit Tracker” here!

  • The recent KaBOOM! All-Star playground build at Summit International Preparatory with NBA Cares in Arlington, Tex. has gotten some great converage!

    Check out this article from the Star-Telegram summarizing the Build Day! Here's a snippet:

    As clumps of snow fell off trees in Arlington, [Dikembe] Mutombo and other players helped parents, teachers and other residents haul mulch, mix concrete and set colorful jungle gyms and swing sets in the ground. Volunteers started the work at about 7 a.m. Players came in the afternoon to help, and it was all to be finished by about 4 p.m.

    "I love what the NBA has done with this day of caring," said San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who worked through the afternoon. "Getting guys out and giving back to the communities we're having our games in, it's a really great thing."

    Read the full article here: All-Stars lend a hand to build playground (Star-Telegram)

    You can also watch this great video of the players at the build from NBA.com!

  • After blanketing the northeast with record amounts of snow this week, Mother Nature turned her efforts toward the southwest yesterday!

    Despite six inches of snow, KaBOOM! and NBA Cares are still building a brand new NBA customized EVOS playground at Summit International Preparatory today in the Playful City USA community of Arlington, Texas.

    A wonderful collection of volunteers are already on site and even though snow is falling from the trees every time the DJ plays a different song, construction is already underway!

    NBA superstars Chauncey Billups, Daequan Cook, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard are scheduled to arrive on the site in the afternoon (probably all bundled up!) to help build the playground.

    The project marks the third consecutive year that KaBOOM! and the NBA have partnered together for a playground build in conjunction with the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service. In 2008, we built a great new place to play in New Orleans and followed up by building a new playground in Phoenix last year. More than 1,500 NBA family members will participate in activities today to help North Texas residents live, learn and play!

    Check back later for photos and follow the build’s progress on Twitter!

  • If you’re on the fence about who to root for in the Super Bowl, we at KaBOOM! understand!

    The Indianapolis Colts will be aiming for their second Super Bowl win in the last four years, but before they made it to Miami, the team joined National Starch and Lucas Oil to build a wonderful new playground at Eliza Blaker School 55 back in September. Plenty of Colts players, including Hank Baskett, Kyle Devan, Jamie Silva, Jordan Senn and Pierre Garcon came out and used their muscle to help build the playground in less than seven hours. It marked the second time the Colts and National Starch partnered with KaBOOM! for a playground build, as we teamed up in September of 2008 to give the children at Daniel Webster Family Academy a great place to play – check out the cool video of the build!

    The Saints come from New Orleans, a city near and dear to our hearts. With our Operation Playground campaign, KaBOOM! helped bring back play to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Check out photos from all 100 builds!

    We’ve had the NFL on our minds a lot lately at KaBOOM! because we just finished building a terrific playground with NFL PLAY 60 and Bank of America in Lauderhill, Fla., in conjunction with the 2010 Pro Bowl and the NFL PLAY 60 Community Blitz. Fourteen players came out for the build, including superstars Donovan McNabb, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Terrence Newman, Brian Dawkins, DeMeco Ryans and DeMarcus Ware. In addition, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was on hand, as well as ESPN announcers Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden.

    In less than six hours, more than 200 volunteers built a brand new playground for the children at RISE Academy. The day ended on a fantastic note with Bank of America donating $100,000 to PLAY 60 non-profit community partners! Check out the great story about the build, the video and a blog and collection of photos from Youth Noise!

  • Pro BowlBefore they compete in the 2010 Pro Bowl Jan. 31, some of the NFL’s biggest stars are coming together together as one team today to build a playground with KaBOOM! as part of the largest community program in the league’s history. Following morning practices Pro Bowl players, coaches and Bank of America community volunteers will spend the afternoon working to improve the South Florida community as part of the first-ever "NFL PLAY 60 Community Blitz" in celebration of the Pro Bowl.  

    The playground build will take place at RISE Academy School of Science and Technology, a free public charter elementary school in Broward County. Players will be joined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, as well as ESPN commentators Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski and Mike Tirico and will work with KaBOOM!, RISE students, Bank of America associates and other community volunteers to construct a customized playground at the school, which is currently without a gym or play area.  

    Simultaneously, other players and Bank of America associates will be working on two other service projects in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. All the projects are each designed to help local children stay healthy and active as part of NFL PLAY 60, the league’s campaign to fight childhood obesity. Bank of America also will donate $100,000 to PLAY 60 non-profit community partners as part of the program. 

    You can learn more information about the Blitz here and we'll be live-tweeting the event throughout the day. Then you can see all the great players who helped build the playground in action when the Pro Bowl is played on Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN!

    UPDATE: Photos from the build are now available on the NFL website.

  • Pierre GarconSunday was a great day to relax and watch some football, with teams battling for the chance to play in the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. A round of congrats are in order for the Indianapolis Colts, who will try and win their second Super Bowl in the last four years after beating the New York Jets in a come-from-behind 30-17 victory yesterday! The Colts are great champions for the cause of play, having partnered with KaBOOM! to build playgrounds in each of the last two years.

    Thanks to the generosity of the Colts, National Starch and Lucas Oil, the students at Eliza Blaker School 55 in Indianapolis now have a great, wonderful place to play. On Sept. 29, 255 volunteers took time out of their schedules to build a brand new playground that serves the 300+ children who attend the school. Several Colts players, including Hank Baskett, Kyle Devan, Jamie Silva, Jordan Senn, and Pierre Garcon were on hand to help build the playground. In 2008, the Colts and National Starch partnered with KaBOOM! to give the children at Daniel Webster Family Academy a great place to play (video here).

    Jordan SeenIt was almost an “all-KaBOOM!” Super Bowl matchup this year as the Minnesota Vikings, who have built four playgrounds with KaBOOM! and The Toro Company, lost in overtime to the New Orleans Saints 31-28.

    More fun will come this week as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several NFL players will join hundreds of volunteers for a playground build on Thursday in South Florida in conjunction with the NFL PLAY 60 Community Blitz. Taking place prior to the Pro Bowl (Sunday, Jan. 31), the NFL PLAY 60 Community Blitz is the largest community program in the league’s history. NFL PLAY 60 is designed to tackle childhood obesity through programming, grants and media time for public service announcements.

    I think it goes without saying that no matter who your team is, NFL PLAY 60 is something we can all cheer for! 

  • Congratulations to KaBOOM! All Star Playmaker Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings, who has just been named to the U.S. men's Olympic hockey team! He'll compete in Vancouver next month. Your first chance to see the U.S. team will be in a preliminary round against Switzerland on Feb. 16. View the complete schedule here.

    Brown is the NHL Los Angeles Kings All-Star and captain. He and his wife Nicole became involved with KaBOOM! after the Kings and the Kings Care Foundation committed to building a playground with KaBOOM! in March of 2009. During the 2008-09 season, Dustin and Nicole committed to donating $50 to KaBOOM! for every body check Dustin recorded during the season. Dustin finished with 285 hits, which raised $14,250 for KaBOOM!. Fans can check out the "Hit Tracker" at www.lakings.com/kaboom. Dustin also supported the KaBOOM! Play Days effort, and the 2009 KaBOOM! Play Day Kit featured a limited edition Dustin Brown trading card.

    We're so proud of Dustin and wish him and his team the best of luck in the Olympic games!

  • Parks and RecreationI have to admit, it's a little surreal to see the organization you work for featured in a comedy series on television. 

    But then again, I work in an office with a tire swing, so I guess nothing is really that unbelievable!

    On Oct. 22, as part of the Entertainment Industry Foundation's iParticipate campaign to promote volunteerism, KaBOOM! was not only mentioned but prominently featured on NBC's "Parks and Recreation" starring Amy Poehler.

    In the episode, parks and recreation official Leslie Knope and her team visit the nearby city of Eagleton to help local volunteers and KaBOOM! build a playground. At first, Leslie is skeptical that a playground can actually be built in one day, but as she witnesses the transformation, she catches the KaBOOM! spirit and becomes even more determined to build a new park in place of a giant, ugly construction pit in her town. If you missed it, never fear - you can still watch the episode online.

    It's fun to watch Leslie catch the KaBOOM! spirit - even if she and the characters on the show take it to comic extremes! The show brought lots of new people to the KaBOOM! website, and it's been great to see that passion for building great places to play catch on!

    So, remember, KaBOOM! actually does exist (contrary to the ending of the Parks and Rec episode!) and we need support from people like you. Make a donation to KaBOOM! today so we can continue ensure that all children have great opportunities for play in their neighborhoods!