First Lady Michelle Obama Helps Non-Profit KaBOOM! Build 2,000th Playground

First Lady joins KaBOOM!, Knight Foundation, Members of Congress on The Congressional Day of Service Event to build new playground at Washington D.C. elementary school in one day

WASHINGTON D.C. – First Lady Michelle Obama joined more than 500 volunteers to celebrate building the 2,000th playground in the history of non-profit organization KaBOOM! on Wednesday at a Washington D.C. elementary school as part of The Congressional Day of Service Event.

The First Lady, Members of Congress, volunteers from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and hundreds of volunteers from the Southeast Washington D.C. community built the new 4,000 square foot playground in less than eight hours to celebrate the 2,000th playground build by non-profit KaBOOM!, which is celebrating its 15th birthday in 2011.

“I’ve known and worked with KaBOOM! long before being First Lady,” said Obama. “To see this organization grow as it has, impacting so many communities, so many schools, so many young people, it is really a source of pride to be here today to celebrate the 2,000th build. I’m really proud of Darell (Hammond), I’m proud of everyone at KaBOOM! because it takes thousands and thousands of people to do what they all do all over the country.”

This was Mrs. Obama’s second time helping to build a playground with KaBOOM!, and her third visit to a KaBOOM! playground site.

KaBOOM!, a national non-profit founded by The New York Times Best Selling author Darell Hammond, is dedicated to saving play for children and has raised more than $200 million dollars to support the cause since 1996. In that time, KaBOOM! has directly led the construction of 2,000 playspaces across North America that collectively serve 5,501,334 children.

“When KaBOOM! started at a table in a Washington D.C. deli 15 years ago, no one believed play was important or thought we would even last a year and here we are celebrating our 15th birthday and our 2,000th playground build,” said Hammond. “For 15 years, KaBOOM! has fought the Play Deficit among children and the participation of the First Lady and members of Congress in this playground project validates the notion we have firmly believed since our inception, which is that every child deserves a great place to play.”

The 2,000th KaBOOM! build was made possible by Knight Foundation, which has invested $1.4 million in KaBOOM! to build 14 playgrounds across the U.S. with KaBOOM! in the last two years.

“KaBOOM! playground builds create a sense of community spirit that drives residents toward taking action for the improvement of their neighborhoods,” said Damian Thorman, national program director for Knight Foundation. “Knight Foundation is focused on increasing community engagement and we believe these playground projects will inspire individuals to take on additional projects that will enhance their communities.”

The 2,000th KaBOOM! build took place at Imagine Southeast Public Charter School. The school, which serves nearly 500 children from kindergarten through fifth grade, previously did not have playground equipment for children to enjoy. The new playground, which also includes an innovative Imagination Playground in a Cart and a community garden, will be open to the public and will eventually serve more than 2,000 children and families. The school is moving from its old location to a brand-new state of the art facility. In order to provide the best education possible for children in this underserved area, adding a playground to the newly renovated building was an absolute necessity.

“We couldn’t have asked for anything more,” said Stacey Scott, Imagine Southeast Public Charter School Principal. “Having a playground for our children to enjoy will have a monumental affect on our school. The children deserved to have a playground and we’re extremely thankful to KaBOOM! and Knight Foundation for giving this incredible gift to our children.”

Hundreds of corporations, foundations and partners have worked with KaBOOM! to build these 2,000 playgrounds, including KaBOOM! national partners Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Foresters, JetBlue, Kraft Foods Foundation and MetLife Foundation.

The project is one of more than 160 playground builds KaBOOM! will lead across the country in 2011 in an effort to fight the Play Deficit and provide a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

KaBOOM! 2,000th Playground Build Facts

  • 1996 – year KaBOOM! founded by Darell Hammond
  • 2,000 – playspaces built directly by KaBOOM!
  • 1,000,000 – volunteers involved in building KaBOOM! playspaces
  • 5,501,334 – children served by KaBOOM! playspaces
  • 4,324,000 – nuts, bolts and washers used to assemble KaBOOM! playspaces
  • 5,300,000 – total square feet of KaBOOM! playspaces (enough to cover more than 92 football fields)
  • 35,520,000 – pounds of concrete mixed and moved by hand on KaBOOM! playspaces (more than the weight of 3,861 elephants)
  • 89,569,800 – square feet of safety surfacing spread on KaBOOM! playspaces

About KaBOOM!
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to saving play. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, a fact that is having disastrous consequences on their health, achievement levels, and overall well-being. To fight this Play Deficit, social entrepreneur Darell Hammond founded non-profit KaBOOM! 15 years ago in Washington, D.C. with a vision of creating a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since then, KaBOOM! has mapped over 85,000 places to play, built 2,000 playgrounds, and successfully advocated for play policies in hundreds of cities across the country. KaBOOM! also provides communities with online tools to self-organize and take action to support play on both a local and national level. Hammond chronicles the founding of the organization and the importance of the cause of play in his The New York Times Best Seller KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play. The book details how businesses and communities can work together to save play for children across the country. All author proceeds support KaBOOM!. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

 

For media inquiries, please contact:
Mike Vietti
KaBOOM!
202-327-0086
mvietti@kaboom.org

Marc Fest
Knight Foundation
305-908-2677
fest@knightfoundation.org