"Healthy communities offer safe and equitable playspaces for all residents. In 2009, I founded the GoPlay Initiative which integrates community-wide resources to create playful living opportunities and inspire a spirit of discovery. The campaign included school educators, community volunteers, and local organizations that joined together to build an innovative playground for over 1,000 third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the Starkville School District.
While Starkville leaders believed in the value of play it was the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program that provided the needed spark to make play a city wide priority. Leaders representing the city of Starkville, Parks Commission, Starkville School District, civic organizations, and local businesses joined efforts in the spring of 2011 to set tangible goals for investing in play. Organized as the Starkville Play Task Force, our team continues to work towards the action plan goals we have set for the entire community.
Drafted by Play Task Force members, the Starkville School Board and Board of Alderman passed a shared use agreement contract in October of 2011. Now the public has access to Starkville school playgrounds and the school district has additional city resources to maintain and improve neighborhood playspaces. The Playful City USA recognition has brought public and private entities together to build a better, more playful Starkville. The KaBOOM! organization not only provides useful resources but also inspiration to continue as a play advocate in Mississippi."
– Heather Carson, Starkville, MS
Play it forward with a donation to help make more cities playful like Starkville, MS.
"It was just a typical Wednesday afternoon in April, and I had no idea what I was about to get myself into. I was picking up my kids after school and heard about a meeting taking place down the hall. They promised a free meal and some entertainment for my kids, and that sounded like a good deal to me.
I went over and found out that KaBOOM! was going to be building a new playground at my local community center. As I was enjoying a hot bowl of stew my kids were drawing their dream designs for the new playground, I was hooked.
As the weeks of planning went on I found myself taking on more and more. Before I knew it I was leading the Food Committee and was walking around my neighborhood asking for donations of food – enough to feed the nearly 200 volunteers we expected on Build Day. I realized how much I was really capable of taking on.
Before this project I was a single mom just doing the best for my kids, but the KaBOOM! project made me feel like I could give so much more. On Build Day all my efforts were totally worth it. It made me realize how strong of a person I really am and how much more I can give, and that is something I’m reminded of every day when I walk by the playground or watch my kids play on it."
– Jesse Chittick, Calgary, AB
Jesse discovered a motivation and drive in herself she thought she’d lost a long time ago. With the new playground serving as tangible evidence of what she can accomplish she’s already on the lookout for another opportunity to make a difference.
Play it forward with a donation today to help people like Jesse realize how much power they really have.
On May 6th, 2011 KaBOOM!, Friendship Southeast Elementary Academy and Dr Pepper Snapple Group built a great new place to play in Washington, DC. As a result of the build, the school is going to start a Keep it Green program for recycling at the school.
Since Build Day the community has never been more revived. Everyone knew, no matter where they came from, who they are, or what they do, that they did it together as one. The kids are starting to smile a lot more and can’t wait to use the playground all the time.
Play it forward with a donation today, because it starts with a playground, but that’s just the beginning.
"I have never been comfortable taking a back seat, especially when my kids (Seth, Jonah and Finn) are involved. I began volunteering at Seth’s school when he was kindergarten and I haven’t stopped. From being a room mom to the PTA and even a member of the Louisville Mayor’s Health Hometown Movement schools committee – I’ll stop at nothing to make sure my kids, and the rest of the kids in our community, have access to the very best education possible. Every child, regardless of background can accomplish and achieve their goals if they know that a community is supporting them and cheering them on. I’m just lucky enough to be one of the cheerleaders.
In 2009 that meant a bringing a new playground to our elementary school. I had the drive, and KaBOOM! had the tools. Together with my partner-in-play, Kassi Clifford, and our school PTA, and with the KaBOOM! do-it-yourself project planner as our guide, we built a great new playground – in just one amazing day!
I so strongly believe that play and recess should not be extras or options, but should be a given part of a daily routine. If we are going to have a future filled with responsible adults we need to help create a world where all children understand collaboration, creativity, and cooperation. And I know KaBOOM! feels the same way."
– Myrdin Thompson, Louisville, KY
KaBOOM! supports the work of PLAY advocates like Myrdin every day. From online project planners to trainings and community outreach, together we can work to make play a reality for every child in America.
Play it forward this holiday season with a gift to keep helping PLAY advocates like Myrdin across the country.
"In 2002 I was a new mom with an active 1-year old son. One of my friends recommended a brand new playground in town. But, when I got there, everything was wrong. The playground was for older kids, the equipment reached much too high off the ground for my little guy. We had to go back home – not something easy to explain to a toddler.
That’s the moment my play spark ignited – why wasn’t there a place where moms like me could rate and map playgrounds? One place that had pictures, information about restrooms, type of equipment, parking, shade, age-appropriateness, and the million others things that moms need to think about before heading to a park?
I ran with it. I started out with a column in my MOMS Club newsletter and eventually coined the term 'playground blogger.' In November of 2008, with my blog getting just 30 visitors a month, I discovered KaBOOM! and the Map of Play. The KaBOOM! concept was EXACTLY what I envisioned all those years before – and it was already operating on a national scale!
Since then I’ve worked with KaBOOM! as a local expert to improve and expand the map, make it more mom-friendly and easier to use. Working together, just 3 years later, my blog now reaches 14,000 people a month during the summer. Orange County is a metropolis of over 3 million people, but I've built a community of park lovers.
I'm known in different circles as 'Play Mom' or 'The Park Lady' or, my favorite, 'The Queen of Play.' I solve riddles about where to find the tallest slides, playgrounds without sand, baby swings by the beach, and even where to take a kid who is fanatical about tarantulas and bats. Want to go to a park and hit a farmers market without having to buckle your twins into two car seats twice? I’ve got that covered, too.
Through KaBOOM!, I hope I'm inspiring communities and future playground bloggers nationwide, to share places to play because I believe PLAY is not optional."
– Michele Whiteaker, FunOrangeCountyParks.com
Michele has inspired her community to get out and play, she inspires us to build a nationwide movement to do the same thing.
Play it forward to build the Map of Play to help moms like Michele across the country find great places to play.
On April 6th, 2011 KaBOOM!, the Salvation Army Temple Corps Community Center and Energizer built a great new place to play in St. Louis. While at a community carnival a week after Build Day, a group of concerned parents approached Steve and John (who had helped lead the build) about vandalism and other inappropriate activities happening on the playground after hours. They decided they right then and there that they will be forming a neighborhood watch group to take care of the playground!
Play it forward with a donation today to support our model of community-built playgrounds which give communities ownership and pride in their great new places to play.
KaBOOM! Founder and CEO, Darell Hammond, was recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 30 social entrepreneurs in the world. In determining their inaugural Impact 30 list of people using business to solve the world's most pressing social problems, Forbes turned to a panel of experts to "identify the leading innovators across health, education, finance and other sectors."
In selecting Hammond they not only recognized his unique talents in building a movement to save play, but also that play is critical to the health and well-being of our children. In fact, Jill Vialet, CEO and Founder of frequent KaBOOM! partner, Playworks, also made the list, further illustrating the growing momentum around the cause of play.
“When my son was born sixteen years ago, my life changed. As a new mom of a child with a disability I was quickly realizing how many challenges and hurdles we would both face in the years ahead. But my heart broke when I realized that there were no real playgrounds, or any type of place for my son to play with other children in an unstructured way. Play is a necessity for all children, and especially important for disabled kids. I knew I had to take action.
With the help of four other moms we started the Center for Creative Play, and indoor play space for unstructured play that was accessible for all children. Within 5 years we had over 45,000 visitors a year. We started working on accessible playground across the country and worked with KaBOOM! to make accessible playgrounds a reality.”
– Mara Kaplan, Pittsburgh, PA
Mara saw a need and worked to fill it. Her passion for building accessible playgrounds is contagious and her work will continue until all kids have a great place to play.
Play it forward with a donation to help bring play to ALL kids, without exception.
“Our kids have not had a safe place to interact with other kids until KaBOOM! helped build a playground three blocks from our home. Now they go and play more and through the build my wife and I made some new friends in our area. Thanks. I think you guys are doing a wonderful thing, keep up the good work.”
– Steve Green, Champaign, IL
Play it forward with a donation today to help us give all kids a safe place to play within walking distance of their home.
"I am on the Board of our local Community Development Corporation in my town - The Colony - in Texas. In my position I get to help direct tax payer dollars to community enrichment and recreation projects - like parks, trails and playgrounds. I had always viewed this as a big responsibility, which I took very seriously. When we were installing new playgrounds I would be sure to inspect each one - did we get all the parts we paid for? Was it installed correctly? Is it well-lit? Was there any graffiti on the equipment? I viewed my role in a very utilitarian light.
Then, one summer afternoon, everything changed. I brought my grandson, Jace, to see one of the new playgrounds we'd just installed. While Jace was playing I sat down on a bench and started watching the other kids on the playground that day - four 10 year old boys. In front of my eyes I watched PLAY happen. One boy yelled to the other 'I need you on the bridge, Captain!' and others were working to make the ship 'space bound' from the 'engine room.'
In that moment I saw the creativity emerge from these boys. I fully understood the vital importance of PLAY in a way I never had before. Everything about what my role was on the CDC Board changed - from not only being a guardian of tax payer money but to being a guardian of play also. I went back to my fellow Board members and explained what I had witnessed and experienced. Encouraged by a new passion and determination I believe our entire Board has embraced the importance of what we do for our community in a stronger way and all the projects we work on in the future.
I also found a new understanding of my community when I wrote our city's Playful City USA application. This new understanding of PLAY has truly changed the work I do for my community. Our Play Task Force hosted an entire month of Play in September - playTC! Month. Hundreds of people experienced new adventures and opportunities to play in The Colony."
– Lisa Leary, The Colony, TX
Lisa discovered the importance of PLAY and used that new-found passion and determination to help make her entire community more playful.
Play it forward to keep helping people like Lisa discover the importance of PLAY.