Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Saint Paul Parks Conservancy, UnitedHealthcare, Sierra and KABOOM! Unveil Kid-Designed Playground at Dunning Park

Community joins forces with nonprofit to advance playspace equity

Saint Paul, MN (October 13, 2023) · 

Today, kids in the Rondo neighborhood of Saint Paul, MN are celebrating as the community debuts a kid-designed, community-built playground at Dunning Recreation Center. The months-long collaboration between Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Saint Paul Parks Conservancy, UnitedHealthcare, Sierra, and KABOOM! culminated this week as volunteers built the new playspace that will spark joy and foster a sense of belonging for around 1,300 kids each year.

The new playground at Dunning Recreation Center is part of a nationwide effort led by KABOOM! to end playspace inequity – the reality that far too many children – especially children of color – do not get the chance to play on a playground, something that should be part of every child’s life. In August, kids in the Rondo neighborhood shared drawings of their dream playspaces with project organizers. These ideas were integrated into the new playground design. As an official Playce Partner in KABOOM!’s 25 in 5 Initiative to End Playspace Inequity, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy are leading an ambitious plan to invest $7.5 million to address gaps in access to quality places to play in communities that disproportionately lack resources and to help achieve the City’s goal to make Saint Paul a city that works for all. The playground at Dunning Recreation Center is the first of 18 playspaces that will be renovated or newly built in Saint Paul through the partnership with KABOOM!.

Saint Paul Parks and Recreation believes that all kids deserve spaces where students can play together, develop social skills, and be creative. As the champion of Saint Paul’s award-winning park system, the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy carries out Saint Paul’s vision of equitable access to active lifestyles, vibrant places, and a vital environment. Together with KABOOM!, these committed partners will help drive resources for quality playspaces to the kids and communities that are too often denied opportunities to thrive.

“Playgrounds are an iconic part of childhood where kids collect some of their best memories and experience the countless physical and mental health benefits of play,” said Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!. “KABOOM! is thrilled to kick-off our 25 in 5 partnership with Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy at Dunning Park, the Mayor’s childhood park and beloved place to play. We are committed to ensuring every neighborhood in Saint Paul is designed for every kid to have a happy and healthy childhood.”

Playing is the essence of childhood and is a critical developmental need that provides countless physical, social, and mental health benefits. However, far too many children, especially in communities of color, do not have a place to play near where they live or learn. The new playground designed with the neighborhood’s unique needs and aspirations in mind, brings Saint Paul one step closer toward ending playspace inequity and ensuring that every kid has the opportunity to experience the joys and benefits of play.

The playspace at Dunning Recreation Center was made possible by support from Sierra and UnitedHealthcare. With nine store locations throughout the Saint Paul and Minneapolis area, Sierra is committed to encouraging outdoor play in the communities they serve. As part of UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to help people live healthier lives, the new playspace at Dunning Park is an opportunity to give back to the communities where their employees work and live.

“Sierra is excited to get the Saint Paul community up and active, making it more accessible with this build!” Says Sierra Assistant Vice President of Marketing Elisa Pouliot. “With nine stores throughout Minneapolis, we are committed to giving back to this community. This is our fifth year partnering with KABOOM! and we are still amazed at every playground built.”

“We know staying active improves health outcomes. That’s why we’re excited to collaborate with KABOOM and the City of St. Paul on this new play space to provide youth, parents, and their families with a safe space to gather and play,” said Brett Edelson, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Minnesota.

About Saint Paul Parks and Recreation

Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is a nationally accredited and gold medal award-winning organization that manages 183 parks and open spaces, AZA-accredited Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, 26 city-operated recreation centers, more than 120 miles of trails, an indoor and two outdoor aquatic facilities, a public beach, a variety of premium sports facilities, municipal golf courses, and Great River Passage – which is the new identity for all proposed public development along Saint Paul’s more than 17 miles of Mississippi riverfront. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is also the proud home of Right Track, a youth employment initiative changing the face of Saint Paul.

About Saint Paul Parks Conservancy

As the private nonprofit champion of Saint Paul’s award-winning parks, the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy partners with community members to enhance park facilities and programs to meet changing needs. Past Conservancy projects directly serve more than 2 million residents and visitors in neighborhoods across the city. Our vision is that all Saint Paulites have equitable access to truly great green spaces where they feel welcomed, pursue wellness and find joy.

About Sierra

Founded in 1986, Sierra helps customers get active with epic brands, vast selection, and teeny, tiny prices. Sierra is part of The TJX Companies, Inc., the leading off-price retailer of apparel and home fashions in the U.S. and worldwide. Shop any of our 86 Sierra stores or visit to find apparel, footwear, and gear for your whole family at incredible prices. Give @SierraOfficial a follow on Instagram and Facebook, then tag us to share your travels, new hobbies, and epic finds.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.7 million physicians and care professionals, and 7,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at or follow @UHC on LinkedIn.

KABOOM! is the national nonprofit committed to ending playspace inequity – the reality that quality places to play are not available to every child, especially in communities of color. Since 1996, KABOOM! has partnered with kids and communities to create or transform 17,000+ playspaces and ensure that nearly 12 million kids have equitable access to the crucial benefits and opportunities that playspaces offer. In 2022, KABOOM! launched the 25 in 5 Initiative to End Playspace Inequity, the $250 million plan to accelerate its mission in 25 high-priority locations over five years. Learn more at and join the conversation at,, and LinkedIn.