Celebrity judges

 

Ahmed HassanAhmed Hassan

One of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most sought-after landscape designers, Ahmed Hassan has spent over 20 years mastering the business of landscaping and home improvement. He also has the unique privilege of sharing his life’s work with thousands of TV viewers. On screen, Ahmed shares his valuable expertise as host of three television series: Yard Crashers (aired on DIY Network as well as HGTV), Blog Cabin (DIY), and the newly developed Turf War (DIY). In addition, he is a Gardening and Landscaping Contributor on the CBS Early Show. Off screen, Ahmed runs Ahmad Hassan Landscaping Services (AHLS), a complete landscape design and installation company. To learn more, visit his website at www.ahmadandahmed.com.

Why I’m involved in this project:
“As a child I spent so many hours playing at the park and on play structures that it's almost impossible for me to even imagine how a kid could survive without the opportunity to experience this joy outdoors. Playground structures and parks are the beginning of our children learning how to move, how to think, and how to push themselves to the brink of excitement and adventure.”

 

Alex GriffithAlex Griffith

Alex Griffith, a 16-year-old North Harford High School sophomore from Forest Hill, Maryland worked for over 2.5 years; raised over $60,000; and planned, designed, purchased and shipped a playground to Children's Hospital #20, the hospital where he was born in Krasnoyarsk Russia. Alex traveled to Krasnoyarsk in 2009 with a crew of six Boy Scouts to build the playground. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout, scouting’s highest honor and was named one of 28 CNN 2009 Heroes of the Week as an example of ordinary people doing extraordinary things for their communities.

Why I’m involved in this project:
“I am excited to be a judge so I can see other people's designs and see how creative and outside-the-box they can be. Playgrounds are important because they help kids have fun while exercising, and I have always liked to play on them.”

 

Antawn JamisonAntawn Jamison

Antawn Jamison joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in February 2010 after serving as a team captain for the Washington Wizards for over five seasons. A two-time NBA All-Star (2005, 2008), Jamison was awarded the NBA's Community Assist Award in 2003 for his incredible community service efforts in North Carolina and was named a finalist for the NBA’s Sportsmanship Award in 2009. A former winner of the Magic Johnson Award and a two-time honoree by The Sporting News as one of the "Good Guys" in sports, Jamison is a fixture at community events.

Why I’m involved in this project:
“When I was young, I had an opportunity to have a place where I could go play and be a kid and that helped make me the person I am today. Not only is it important for kids to have a great playground, but it’s also important for kids to like the way the playground is designed. If they really enjoy playing on it, they’re going to keep coming back.”

 

Caressa CameronCaressa Cameron

Caressa Cameron was recently crowned Miss America 2010. Since then, she has been traveling the country and talking about the Miss America Organization’s national platform—the Children’s Miracle Network, for which she is serving as the National Goodwill Ambassador—and her personal platform of Real Talk: AIDS in America. An accomplished vocalist, Caressa performed during the 2009 Presidential Inauguration festivities. Upon completing her year of service, Caressa will fulfill her degree requirements at Virginia Commonwealth University. She hopes to become a leading anchor in television news.

Why I’m involved in this project:
“As Miss America, I’m deeply troubled by the increase in childhood obesity that’s occurring within my lifetime. A huge part of the problem is that our children aren’t playing outside like they used to. When I was growing up, we enjoyed games in the streets; playing outside helped us become secure, happy, and resilient adults. I decided to help judge this competition in the hopes that it will get communities thinking about ways to get kids excited about going outside to the playground.”

 

Carter OosterhouseCarter Oosterhouse

Carter Oosterhouse is one of America’s most recognized lifestyle experts. As host of HGTV’s Carter Can and Red, Hot & Green and as one of most sought-after green-living experts, Carter brings his vast knowledge of sustainability in design and living. In the years since he shot to fame as the carpenter on the wildly popular series Trading Spaces, Carter has become a go-to expert for many national outlets. Carter is also founder of Carter’s Kids, an organization dedicated to building and developing community parks and playgrounds in low-income areas in an effort to promote healthy living.

Why I’m involved in this project:
“I really want young people to have a place in their neighborhood where they can enjoy activities to increase their health, self-esteem and overall well-being. Growing up in Traverse City, my fondest childhood memory was getting together with the other neighborhood kids and playing sports. I grew up living an active lifestyle with a real sense of community. My time outside as a child really shaped the person I am today.”

 

Dustin BrownDustin Brown

NHL Los Angeles Kings All-Star and captain Dustin Brown and his wife Nicole helped build a playground with KaBOOM! in March of 2009. They loved the KaBOOM! mission so much that during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, they committed to donating $50 to KaBOOM! for every body check Dustin recorded. Fans can check out the "Hit Tracker” here. Dustin is also active in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walks and serves as a spokesman for Children's Cancer Research Fund. He also helped guide the U.S. Men’s Hockey team to a Silver Medal performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Why I’m involved in this project:
“Playgrounds and athletics are where so many lessons are learned. 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. I want to make sure children have a great place to play while they grow up – just like I did.”

 

Heidi StevensHeidi Stevens

Heidi Stevens is a features writer for The Chicago Tribune, where she specializes in family, relationships and other lifestyle topics. Early childhood and the importance of unstructured play are two areas of particular interest, both professionally and personally. Heidi has a four-year-old daughter and a six-month-old son. She and her family live in Chicago and love to explore the city’s many playgrounds—sometimes even braving a Windy City snowstorm to do so. Samples of Heidi’s work can be found on www.heidikstevens.com.

Why I’m involved in this project:
“A good playground teaches kids just about every life lesson they need: love the outdoors, get some exercise, play well with others, and when you come to a really big obstacle, climb it—there might be a twisty slide on the other side.”

 

Paige JohnsonPaige Johnson

Paige Johnson’s day job has nothing to do with playgrounds. She works in a lab making nanodevices. But she’s always been interested in gardens and public spaces, and has a Masters in garden history. So when she took on the task of building a playground for her church, she was stunned by the cost of the most basic structures and the lack of choices in terms of design. She started researching playground design, architects and artists who create custom playspaces, and child development studies that looked at what kids really need out of a playground. To capture and share all of this research, Paige started her Playscapes blog.

Why I’m involved in this project:

"I want to see new creative forms in playgrounds, find designs that really respond to their own unique and individual settings, and champion the use of natural and inexpensive materials. Playgrounds shouldn’t all look alike. To get my vote, do something new and different, pay attention to composing the entire space, not just arranging equipment, and think deeply about what will make the space meaningful to those who use it."
 

 

Rick BakerRick Baker

In 2001, Rick Baker was elected Mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla. and was re-elected in 2005. His second term ended in January 2010. He instituted a program called “Play N’ Close to Home” with a goal to ensure that every child in the city had access to a public playspace within a safe half-mile walk from their home. The program plotted existing public playgrounds, and then worked with communities to fill in areas without playgrounds by either building new playgrounds or forming joint-use partnerships with organizations to make existing playgrounds publicly accessible. The Mayor, his wife Joyce, and two young children are regular playground-goers.

Why I’m involved in this project:
“When a parent walks their child to a playground they both enjoy exercise, get to know their neighbors, and have fun. Playgrounds are a significant improvement to the quality of life for the people who live in a city.”

 

Tim SullivanTim Sullivan

Tim Sullivan has spoken at hundreds of parent group (PTO and PTA) meetings and to tens of thousands of parent group leaders all across the country. In print, on the radio and on national TV, Tim is a frequent contributor to national discussions on the importance of parent involvement in schools. He maintains a role as a senior writer for PTO Today Magazine and as a featured blogger on both ptotoday.com and SchoolFamily.com. Tim also recently helped found Schools Serve—the National School Food Drive. Tim lives in Attleboro, Massachusetts with his wife Ellen and their four children.

Why I’m involved in this project:

“PTO and PTA leaders know that great schools are about more than just the 3 Rs. They’re communities of learning that surround the kids and connect school families and create lifetime learners. A great school playground sends the message that a school community recognizes that learning is an all-day and all-ways and life-long activity.”