KaBOOM! News

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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