KaBOOM! and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Announce New Play Everywhere Challenge Winners to Create Unique Playspaces for Kids

As a part of the Built to Play initiative, $1 million in grants are awarded across Western New York and Southeast Michigan for creative ideas that incorporate play into everyday life in unexpected places

Washington D.C. (July 10, 2019) · 

Today, KaBOOM!, the national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids the childhood they deserve through great, safe places to play, and the Built to Play initiative, supported by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, announced new winners of the second Play Everywhere Challenge these partners have led together. The Challenge awards a total of $1 million for 22 projects across Western New York and Southeast Michigan to create landmark playspaces that provide kids with equitable opportunities to play.

The Play Everywhere Challenge invites communities to submit creative design ideas that make it easier for families to incorporate play into everyday moments. Selected projects will bring play into public spaces in unconventional ways — such as implementing swings at bus stops or play zones at laundromats.

Examples of playful projects coming to these areas include:

  • A half-mile Chadakoin Adventure Trail (Jamestown, NY) linking an elementary school with a local park and featuring climbable animal figures, tunnels and tree trunk steppers.
  • An installation called Heat Islands (Buffalo, NY) with rock-like structures that change temperature with the seasons, providing an interactive outdoor learning space year-round.
  • A Playful Dragon (Orion Township, MI) statue/playspace hybrid complete with slide, ‘lava’ balance pieces and a ‘burnt forest’ of climbing logs and stumps.
  • A musical playspace Good Fun & Sound Abounds Downtown (Pontiac, MI), transforming an empty lot with instruments like a xylophone and chimes along with a pop-up stage for events.

The Built to Play initiative answers a need identified through the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s work with the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program on each region’s “State of Play” assessment, and through research conducted by KaBOOM!, which shows that while play is an essential factor in childhood development, there are far too many kids who lack opportunities for great, safe spaces to play — especially in rural and low-income neighborhoods.

“Play is an essential part of childhood, but kids are too often denied the benefits of play. Play is an equity issue, and the opportunity to play should not be determined by zip code, socio-economic status or race,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. “The Play Everywhere Challenge helps address this critical need, and we thank the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for their commitment to ensuring every kid can experience the joy of a play-filled childhood.”

The projects implemented through the Play Everywhere Challenge will help families make play the easy choice and support kids in getting the physical activity they need to thrive.

“The creative projects that make up this round of the Play Everywhere Challenge are remarkable,” said Jim Boyle, vice president of programs & communications, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “We’re proud that this program helps provide kids and families with more high-quality options for the active play necessary to develop and thrive.”

Through the Play Everywhere Challenge and the creation of playspaces starting this summer, the Built to Play initiative will create 22 new playspaces that reach thousands of kids in Western New York and Southeast Michigan.

Learn more about the Play Everywhere Challenge and view a gallery of winners from across Western New York and Southeast Michigan.

About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.'s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. The Foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation's impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit

KABOOM! is the national non-profit that works to achieve playspace equity. Kids who don’t have access to play miss out on childhood and are denied critical opportunities to build physical, social and emotional health. And all too often, it more deeply affects communities of color. So we amplify the power of communities to build inspiring playspaces that spark unlimited opportunities for every kid, everywhere. KABOOM! has teamed up with partners to build or improve 17,000+ playspaces, engage more than 1.5 million community members and bring joy to more than 11 million kids. To learn about our goal to end playspace inequity for good, visit and join the conversation at,, and