KaBOOM! News • page 18

The 100th build from Operation Playground was featured on "Good Morning America" June 17, 2008!

Watch the segment here.

More than 500 volunteers converged on Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park in Bay St. Louis on June 14 to help KaBOOM! and our partners complete the 100th Operation Playground project in the Gulf Coast. In December 2005, KaBOOM! committed to build 100 playgrounds in the region after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast, starting with the first in Bay St. Louis. It was only fitting that the 100th playground was built in the town where it all began.

The 100th build was a true community celebration. Not even a midday shower could dampen the enthusiasm of the volunteers from the local community, Fannie Mae, AmeriCorps*NCCC, Gulf Coast Recovery Corps, Keesler Air Force base, and others, many of whom had participated in several previous Operation Playground projects. In just under six hours, the volunteers completed two playground structures, refurbished two basketball courts, and built an extensive new ‘front porch' entrance to the park. They also painted several murals commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, the community and Operation Playground. As a finishing touch, local children created a ‘Heroes Walk' around the park honoring the men and women of the Civil Rights movement.

The project was made possible by a partnership between KaBOOM!, the Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Fannie Mae, Foundation for the Mid South, the City of Bay St. Louis, Hancock Housing Resource Center and Powerhouse of Deliverance Church. At 2:30, representatives from each of the organizations, along with the volunteers and past Operation Playground Community Partners, gathered to cut a very special ribbon made up of 100 painted panels representing each of the 100 Operation Playground projects.

Because of Operation Playground, more than 22,000 volunteers have donated their time to build playgrounds for nearly 50,000 children from Houston to Mobile. In all, through Operation Playground, $8.2 million has been invested to build great new places to play in the Gulf Coast by Jim and Donna Barksdale, The Home Depot, Playworld Systems, Fannie Mae, Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, NBA Cares, DJR Foundation, AmeriCares, ESPN, ING Direct and other outstanding partners.

KaBOOM! will continue to build in the region and already has several projects scheduled through December. The 101st and 102nd Operation Playground projects will take place in New Orleans and Biloxi on Saturday, June 28.

American Institute for Public Service
100 West 10th Street, Suite 215
Wilmington, DE 19801-1665

Jonathan Peters
National Director
(302) 295-0532


Darell Hammond to Receive 2008 National Jefferson Award

WASHINGTON D.C., - Darell Hammond will receive the Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 7 p.m. in East Hall, Union Station.  Selected by the Jefferson Awards’ prestigious board of selectors, Darell was chosen for a 2008 Jefferson Award for his advocacy on issues concerning children and community redevelopment.

Darell grew up with seven brothers and sisters at Mooseheart, a group home outside of Chicago.  At Mooseheart, Darell witnessed first hand the amazing contribution volunteers could make in the life of a child and decided to dedicate himself to volunteer service.

In August 1995, shortly after moving to Washington, D.C., 24-year-old Darell Hammond read a story in the Washington Post about two local children who suffocated in an abandoned car because they didn’t have anywhere else to play. Darell, who had previously helped build several playgrounds for other organizations, realized this tragedy could have been prevented and started KaBOOM!, a national non-profit that empowers communities to build playgrounds.  KaBOOM! organizes communities and provides them with an achievable win by leading them in building a playground in one day using all-volunteer labor.  Once communities have completed a KaBOOM!-led playground build, they’re able to take the knowledge they’ve gained from the process to take on other projects.  Since its inception in 1995, KaBOOM! has raised more than $100 million and rallied more than 241,000 volunteers to support the cause of play.

Today, KaBOOM! is recognized as a leader among social entrepreneurial organizations and Darell has become a well-known spokesperson for the cause of play. KaBOOM! and Darell have won numerous awards for national service, innovation and leadership including:  Honorary Doctorate, Ripon College; Children's Mental Health Award, NARSAD; President's Volunteer Service Award; Power and Influence Top 50, non-profit Times; Washingtonian of the Year, Washingtonian magazine; 40 under 40, Crain's Chicago Business ; and the Making a Difference Award, Diet Coke.

In addition to his work with KaBOOM!, Darell serves on the Board of Directors of Independent Sector and Hands on Network and in 2003 was elected as an Ashoka Fellow for being a leader in social entrepreneurship.  


In 1972, the Jefferson Awards for Public Service were founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard to create a Nobel Prize for public and community service. The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. National award recipients are a “Who’s Who” of American history makers. Four Supreme Court Justices have been honored including Thurgood Marshall and Sandra Day O’Connor; seven Secretaries of State including Cyrus Vance and Colin Powell; three first ladies: Barbara Bush, Rosalyn Carter and Betty Ford; as well as Alan Greenspan, Bob Hope and Lance Armstrong, among over 100 others.

Through Jefferson Awards Champions, the Jefferson Awards honors outstanding employees and retirees who volunteer.  We currently work with nearly 30 organizations across America on the Champions program.   Through the Jefferson Awards Media Partners we honor grassroots unsung heroes.   Working together with 135 Media Partners in 76 DMA’s we honor these unsung heroes all across America.   Through the Jefferson Awards Youth Service Initiative we are working in America’s High Schools to double student volunteerism in America. 

KaBOOM! builds 100th playground in the Gulf
"Operation Playground" initiative provides a great place to play for 49,605 children from Houston to Mobile

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast, KaBOOM!, the national non-profit that empowers communities to build playgrounds, made a commitment to build 100 playgrounds in the areas hardest hit by the storms. On June 14th, in Bay St. Louis Miss., KaBOOM! will reach this goal.

"When KaBOOM! began Operation Playground just three months after Hurricane Katrina struck, those outside the area were incredulous, believing that playgrounds were the last thing people needed in the midst of the devastation," said Darell Hammond, CEO and Co-founder, KaBOOM! "But we knew that the Gulf Coast's youngest residents needed safe places to escape the stress of the rebuilding effort and reclaim their childhood."

On Dec. 17, 2005, more than 600 residents and other volunteers came together at Carol Vegas Park in Bay St. Louis, Miss., to build a new playground, the first new permanent structure constructed in the town since Hurricane Katrina. Some wanted to give their kids a safe place to go while they re-built their homes; some remembered the aftermath of Hurricane Camille in 1969 and said they wanted to make sure local children had a place to heal emotionally; and others came out to take action and to be a part of the rebuilding process. On that day, and 98 other days just like it, volunteers transformed an empty lot into a great place to play in just one day.

Following the first build, KaBOOM! and its partners worked with community organizations to build playgrounds in cities from Houston to Mobile. With the generous support of funders such as Jim and Donna Barksdale, The Home Depot, Playworld Systems Inc., Fannie Mae, NBA Cares, the DJR Foundation, AmeriCares, ESPN and ING DIRECT, KaBOOM! has channeled $8.2 million into the area and mobilized more than 21,399 volunteers. Thirty-nine playgrounds were built in New Orleans alone, with 37 across the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

On June 14th, KaBOOM! is returning to Bay St. Louis and will lead our 100th Operation Playground project at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park. Like all KaBOOM! projects, the process started off with a Design Day where neighborhood children gathered to draw their dream playground. For this build, their pictures included everything from a slide, to a basketball court to a Ferris wheel.

"While their parents took their ideas into consideration, the Ferris wheel didn't make the cut," said Hammond. The new playground at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park will serve 2,000 children from ages 2-12 and is in an area where 97% of the children qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

"This playground will give these neighborhood kids a great place to play everyday. We also need to use victories like our 100th build to thank our committed sponsors and to draw national attention to the ongoing needs of those living in the Gulf," said Hammond. "KaBOOM! and our sponsors will continue to build in the area for as long as there's a need. We've already scheduled our 101st and 102nd playground builds on June 28th, and we have projects scheduled through December."

The 100th and 101st playgrounds are two of seventeen playgrounds made possible by a partnership between KaBOOM! and the Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Fannie Mae, and the Foundation for the Mid South.

KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since 1995, KaBOOM! has used its innovative community-build model to bring together business and community interests to construct more than 1,400 new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America. KaBOOM! also offers a variety of resources, including an online community, regional and national trainings, grants, publications and the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play, which includes Playful City USA and the Playmaker Network – a national network of individual advocates for play. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.

FROM: Rockwell Group


Rachel Carr, 212/685-4300
Dan Klores Communications for Rockwell Group

Alison Risso, 202/464-6186



Anticipate Over 1,000 Imagination Playground™s Across the Country Within Five Years

Partnership to Encourage Play and Creativity – First "Playground in a Box" to be Installed In Brownsville, Brooklyn

May 5, 2008 (New York, NY) – Architect David Rockwell of Rockwell Group and KaBOOM!, the foremost national not for profit dedicated to bringing play back into the lives of children, today announced a partnership to develop and implement a new generation of playspaces across the United States, based on the play value concepts of Imagination Playground™, the Rockwell Group's design for a playground in lower Manhattan.

The Rockwell Group created Imagination Playground™, which will break ground this summer, to embody the concept of unstructured, child directed "free play," where children direct their own activities, alone and with their peers. The Rockwell Group has worked closely with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation on the initiative.

"We have always hoped to make the Imagination Playground™ concept available to communities nationwide," said David Rockwell, founder and CEO of Rockwell Group. "We could not be more thankful to KaBOOM! for helping make that dream a reality."

KaBOOM! has spent 12 years building playspaces using a community build model, where they partner with corporations, foundations and private donors. Creating opportunities and tools for building playgrounds, KaBOOM! will extend their play platform by incorporating the Imagination Playground™ model into an expandable collection of its trademark parts to supplement existing playgrounds and form the basis for new playspaces.

"KaBOOM! believes that play is a matter of national importance. We can't wait to bring some of the most innovative, yet old-fashioned concepts in play back to children across the country. By adding sand, water, loose parts, and play associates to what KaBOOM! already offers, we're going to revolutionize your neighborhood playground," said Darell Hammond, co-founder and CEO of KaBOOM!

Rockwell Group has designed three scalable and expandable playgrounds that include elements of Imagination Playground™. They can be installed in existing parks and play areas or newly developed ones, taking into account site, budget, logistics, and available supervision. Rockwell Group and KaBOOM! will also develop Imagination Playground™ "free play" education and advocacy tools and channels.

The three playground designs are described below. Each utilizes loose parts, designed by Rockwell Group, and found parts, along with sand and water, to create a unique playspace for children.

  • Imagination Playground™ Site Specific – a fixed playground unique to a site (like the one designed for Burling Slip near the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan).
  • Imagination Playground™ in a Big Box – Fitted out shipping container containing a variety of loose parts as an anchor for new playground development. The container can be landscaped into an existing or new site.
  • Imagination Playground™ in a Box – a metal box on wheels containing a variety of loose parts, blocks and found items. Imagination Playground™ in a box can be layered into existing playgrounds as well as used in schools (indoors/outdoors), apartment complexes, street fairs, summer camps, hospitals, airports, and emergency settings.

The first Imagination Playground™ in a Box will open in Brownsville, Brooklyn this summer. KaBOOM! is sponsoring the playground, its first in New York City.

KaBOOM! will also look to incorporate Imagination Playground™ into existing playground builds they have planned, allowing children to play in diverse and creative ways in an environment that can be manipulated. KaBOOM! builds more than 230 playgrounds a year. They work with local community groups to design and build the playground from scratch. Since their founding in 1995, they have raised more than $100 million to build 1,400 playgounds in cities across North America, which serve more than 3 million children.

Imagination Playground™ is designed to allow kids to use their creativity to play freely with loose and found parts, and other equipment, rather than prescribed activities. In its place are the raw materials of creativity and sensory exploration, such as sand and water, as well as play props, including building blocks, buckets, shovels, wheelbarrows, and other safe tools that facilitate children's play. These elements will enable children to play in an intuitive way: build something, tear it down, and start all over again.

Rockwell Group is an award winning, cross-disciplinary 250-person architecture and design practice founded by David Rockwell. Based in New York City, Rockwell Group specializes in hospitality, cultural, healthcare, theater and film design. Recent commissions include the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, the Elinor Bunin-Munroe Film Center, the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame at the Time Warner Center; Town restaurant and Chambers hotel (New York City); W New York and W Union Square (New York City); the renovation of the FAO Schwarz Flagship on Fifth Avenue; Cirque du Soleil (Orlando, Florida); the Broadway musicals "Hairspray" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"; the Academy Awards' Kodak Theatre; and numerous restaurants located internationally including New York restaurants Nobu Fifty Seven, Country, Bar Americain, as well as Gordon Ramsay's Maze in London and Roppongi Hills in Tokyo.

KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since 1995, KaBOOM! has used its innovative community-build model to bring together business and community interests to construct more than 1,400 new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America. KaBOOM! also offers a variety of resources, including an online community, regional and national trainings, grants, publications and the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play, which includes Playful City USA and the Playmaker Network – a national network of individual advocates for play. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago, Atlanta and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.

A place to play
By Matt Sloane
May 2, 2008

I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my CNN career Wednesday, and it involved 40 children, about as many parents and some homemade jambalaya at a senior center in Louisiana.

"It starts with a playground" is the slogan for KaBOOM, a national non-profit organization that builds playgrounds. KaBOOM is our newest partner in the fight against childhood obesity. For those 40 kids, and even the parents in the room, it really does all start with a playground.


That's where CNN Fit Nation comes in. For us, it started with a phone call to KaBOOM, and six months later I found myself sitting at this senior center, watching the kids draw their dream playground with crayons. From those drawings, the parents and I sat with KaBOOM staffers and picked the playground equipment that best fit the kids' drawings. Two months from now on June 28, we'll all meet in Metairie to build it, in a shade under 6 hours.

As the parents and adults thanked me for CNN's contribution to their community, I asked all of them for something in return - to use this new playground and to get their children moving and to teach them how to stay healthy well into adulthood.


Read the full article

It's official! The 100th Operation Playground project will take place on Saturday, June 14 at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park in Bay St. Louis, fulfilling a commitment we made to build 100 playgrounds in the areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The project will kick off with a Design Day on Apr. 28. Our partners for this special build are the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Fannie Mae, the Foundation for the MidSouth, the Hancock Housing Resource Center and the City of Bay St. Louis.

The first Operation Playground project took place on Dec. 17, 2005 at Carol Vegas Park in Bay St. Louis, and it is so fitting that we will fulfill our commitment back where Operation Playground began nearly three years ago. More than 600 volunteers gathered on that day to help build the first new playground in the Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita devastated the landscape. It was an amazing day that launched our commitment to build 100 playgrounds in areas affected by the hurricanes. Since then, KaBOOM! and our partners have built 90 playgrounds in towns from Houston to Mobile, bringing play back to the lives of children living in these areas and giving neighbors old and new the chance to rebuild a sense of community lost in the storms. While we will continue to build in the Gulf after the 100th playground, this important milestone will allow us to celebrate our success with friends, draw attention to the ongoing needs of those living in the Gulf and remind people about the importance of having safe and fun places children can play.

Over the last three years, KaBOOM! and The Home Depot have made amazing strides toward our goal of creating 1,000 playgrounds in 1,000 days. This partnership has produced great playspaces for over 600,000 children all across North America. Join us as we celebrate this amazing accomplishment of building and refurbishing 1,000 playgrounds and we look forward to continuing on the road of this incredible journey—a journey that is making a difference in the lives of children, one playground at a time!

Where we've been:

Feb. 13 - Belleview, Fla.
Feb. 14 - Jackson, Miss.
Feb. 14 - Costa Mesa, Calif.

Where we're going:

Mar. 20 - Mobile, Ala.
Mar. 20 - Memphis, Tenn.
April 10 - Marietta, Ga. (1,000th Build!)
April 10 - West Palm Beach, Fla.
April 19 - Wilmington, N.C.
April 24 - Little Rock, Ark.
April 24 - Kansas City, Mo.

See how Team Depot Associates have made a difference in their communities by visiting kaboom.org/homedepot.

1,000th Playground Goes High-Tech!

The Home Depot, KaBOOM! and the Kiwanis Club met with kids from the Magnet Academy at the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics who put crayon to paper and drew their dream playground for the upcoming 1,000th Build Day at Victory Park in Marietta, Ga. on April 10. The children's playground designs were based on an outer space theme and included a series of high-tech swings, slides and crawl tubes. The 1,000th playground structure will be a state-of-the-art spherically designed EVOS™ playground which allows kids to use their imaginations to plan climbing routes, and create games and build new skills.

"This (playground) is going to be the first of its type in the metro Atlanta area," said Erica Liberman, KaBOOM! Associate Director of Project Management, "It's going to be a brand new type of equipment, it's wild and exciting and you'll just have to come and check it out!"

With the help of over 5,000 municipal leaders gathered in New Orleans this week for the National League of Cities annual conference, KaBOOM! celebrated and honored the leadership of the 31 first and founding Playful City USA communities, our pioneers in play, and true role models for all communities across America who want to demonstrate that they put their children first.

The week was packed with exciting events and, in KaBOOM! fashion, left a lasting impact on both attendees and the local community.

On November 15th, 500 local and national leaders celebrated Cajun! KaBOOM!-style during an gala reception honoring our first and founding Playful City USA Communities.

On November 16th, our founding Playful City USA representatives rolled up their sleeves and joined hundreds of mayors and local community volunteers to build a great place to play at the Joe Brown Park, in the City of New Orleans. In partnership with the National League of Cities, Playworld Systems Incorporated, New Orleans Recreation Department and the City of New Orleans Parks and Parkways, volunteers left behind a lasting legacy of play by completing a new playground in just one day!

To wind up this national three day conference, the 31 Founding Playful City USA communities were honored by KaBOOM! CEO & Co-Founder Darell Hammond and over two thousand of their peers from across America at a special awards ceremony during the closing day luncheon.

It was an exciting week in New Orleans and will be an even better week following the conference as local municipal leaders take the message of Playful City USA back to their own communities in 2008!

Were you at the NLC Conference now? Log in and comment -- tell us your story about Playful City USA.

More About Playful City USA

KaBOOM! has 12 years of history working at the local level partnering with community groups to build playgrounds and advocate for the importance of play in the lives of all children in communities across America

To truly ensure a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America, KaBOOM! believes that we must rally thousands of advocates across the country to make play a part of our nation's political agenda.

This is why we launched Playful City USA, to serve as a national platform for recognizing and honoring the hard work of municipal leaders and community activists who come together to address the issue of play community wide.

CEO and Co-founder Darell Hammond to Accept Award at NARSAD's 20th Anniversary Gala in New York on October 19th

GREAT NECK, N.Y., Oct. 9, 2007 — KaBOOM!, the Washington, D.C.-based charity dedicated to the creation of great places to play for children in neighborhoods across America, will be honored on October 19th by NARSAD, the world's leading charity dedicated to mental health research.

NARSAD will present KaBOOM! CEO and co-founder, Darell Hammond, with NARSAD's first-ever Children's Mental Health Award. The occasion is NARSAD's annual New York gala awards dinner, when the organization will also present its annual prizes for outstanding achievements in research. This year's gala marks NARSAD's 20th year of grantmaking and is dedicated to the cause of childhood mental health.

"Our goal this year is to focus public attention on the efforts of great scientists, many of whom we fund, to discover the causes and to develop effective treatments for mental illnesses which strike the youngest people of our society," said Geoff Birkett, NARSAD's president and CEO. "We think it is fitting to recognize KaBOOM! for all of the incredible work it's been doing over a decade's time to create great and wholesome places for kids to congregate and play."

"Healthy play promotes sound mental development in a variety of ways that scientists have carefully documented," commented Stephen Doochin, NARSAD's executive vice president. "For this reason, the KaBOOM! mission and NARSAD's mission intersect and support one another in constructive ways. We salute KaBOOM! and Darell Hammond for creating 1,300 play spaces, and for the love of children and the concern for childhood development that their work represents."

NARSAD's New York City gala takes place Friday evening, Oct. 19th, at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, 301 Park Avenue at 49th Street, in Manhattan, with cocktails beginning at 6:30 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony, dinner and dancing. Tickets are available by calling NARSAD at 516-829-0091 or 800-829-8289.

Since 1987, NARSAD has made over 3,200 grants totaling more than $219 million to top scientists at 418 institutions in the U.S. and 26 other countries, whose research has focused on all forms of severe psychiatric illnesses, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, childhood mental disorders and other adult and childhood conditions.

KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Now in its 12th year, KaBOOM! rallies communities to achieve better public policy, funding and public awareness for increased play opportunities nationwide; provides resources, including trainings, challenge grants, and publications for communities that wish to plan a new play space on their own; and brings together children, business and community interests for a select number of community play space builds each year. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago, Atlanta and San Mateo, Calif.