December 20, 2011

Rebuilding with play

"The old adage 'the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree' had, for the most part, held a negative connotation for me until the KaBOOM! playground build in Pascagoula in 2008. We didn’t have as many volunteers as the other playground builds I worked on, but there was something different about this project - the kids were pitching in just throwing themselves into any job they could find.

Three years before this community was left in total devastation, and now houses that were once uninhabitable were homes again. Many of the people I know, where I used to live in Pascagoula, were too busy mucking out their houses in the days that followed Katrina to worry about when help would arrive. Like community after community along the Gulf Coast they just did what had to be done. Eventually they parked their FEMA trailers next to what was left of their homes, dug in and got busy with rebuilding.

What I witnessed in those children the day of the playground build struck me because it mirrored the actions of their parents and community after the storm. At first I just thought the kids would just get in the way, but they were relentless in their determination to help and did not take long to find what they were good at and run with it. It was apparent that it was not just fun to them - this was really hard work but they were determined to complete the project on time.  And like their parents and community after Katrina, they didn’t just sit there and wait for the cavalry to show up and do it for them."

– JJ Smith, Pascagoula, MS

For most towns a new playground is just that – a great new place to play.  But for the people in the Gulf Coast it offered a chance to rebuild their communities.

Play it forward so we can keep helping communities recover. 

kaboom! news, play it forward, community, playground build, hurricane katrina, pascagoula, mississippi