“I was just flipping through a magazine the summer of 2010 when an article about KaBOOM! stirred something in me. There was a deserted lot in my neighborhood that had stood empty and vacant for over 16 years. We had been promised a playground for years – it was time for action. Along with three other parents in the community, we decided to start a 501C3 and stop waiting.
It started with the KaBOOM! Imagination Playground™ giveaway, in which we placed 5th! Our group got to work, and the KaBOOM! online resources, webinars and trainings were an invaluable resource. We began fundraising, learning about volunteer management, learning about how to manage a community build – all thanks to the online project planner. We had never done anything like this before, but we were determined to make a change.
This summer, less than a year after we started, a new playground went up in that barren, empty lot. As we raised the mast on the new pirate-ship themed playground, we knew it was something we would never forget. Nicole Distefano, our secretary, said it best, ‘I have a profound respect for playgrounds now.’”
– Jacqueline Miller, Stillwater, NY
The Friends of the Stillwater Glen Hollow Park knew their community needed a playground, they knew where to go to learn how to do it, and they built it with the resources from their own community.
Play it forward so we can keep inspiring and teaching people like Jacqueline how to build their own playgrounds.
On April 21st, 2011 KaBOOM!, Nuestros Ninos CD School and Dr Pepper Snapple Group built a great new place to play in Brooklyn.
Now, the kids are more tired and getting tons of exercise running around, on and under their new playground. For the first time they have a hard time getting the kids to go inside.
Play it forward with a donation today, because kids need play to stay healthy.
"When we moved into our neighborhood two and a half years ago, it was (and is) still very much in the midst of recovery from Hurricane Katrina. We were immediately struck by the lack of community space...somewhere for kids and neighbors to gather, play and build relationships. Our local 'playground' – which consisted of a broken metal slide and two swing-sets with no swings – had been identified by the city government as one that needed to be rebuilt, but there was no information about how or when that was going to happen.
That’s when KaBOOM! happened. I sent off a quick email to a staff member there, Shira, and within 30 minutes we were on the phone talking about our new playground. That was late September; our playground was built on December 18th. Our playground, and Build Day, accomplished everything we thought it might – kids and adults are both meeting their neighbors and building relationships – it’s truly incredible.
When we were chosen to receive a new Imagination Playground, a set of large blue foam blocks like life-size tinker toys, I knew we were truly blessed. We take these blocks out into the community as often as we can – to schools who are still without playgrounds, to community events and our monthly movie nights. Recently I discovered that by creating a loose perimeter for the blocks kids are playing even more WITH each other, instead of just grabbing a few blocks and playing by themselves. I am humbled and so thankful for everything we’ve received from KaBOOM!."
– Alf Nelson, New Orleans, LA
Alf spoke up for the community he knew he could have, and with our help, and a lot of work, his neighborhood is thriving.
Play it forward with a donation today so we can keep building up neighborhoods like Alf’s.
“It was my first week in Boston - orientation week for new students at Boston University. As part of our schedules for the week I signed up for a child-focused service project and couldn’t help but gulp when I saw our assignment – build a new playground – in one day.
Needless to say, I was incredulous. I had NO idea how to build a playground, I wasn’t strong enough to lift anything very heavy, it was going to be an incredibly hot day, and how could we possibly build an entire playground in just one day?
But, thanks to KaBOOM!, it was exactly the opposite of what I had been afraid of. I was amazed at the diversity of people, so many of them as doubtful as I was, who came together to work as a unified force.
We came together as one, not because we knew anything about playgrounds, mulch, or mixing concrete, but because we all had the same goal – to build a great new place to play. We struggled together, worked as a team, and in just 6 hours time we watched as the kids ran out to see their new, shiny, beautiful playground. What an amazing day!”
– Genevieve Fasano, Boston, MA
KaBOOM! helps volunteers like Genevieve discover the power of community.
Play it forward to help more volunteers discover the power of teamwork.
"I could build a playground every day! When you build a KaBOOM! playground, you feel like part of the community, you meet interesting people and you all come together for a great cause.
At my last build, I had the opportunity to work with volunteers from a senior center. They were so excited to be there, and sometimes it’s just about feeling needed. Even though they were helping out the kids, KaBOOM! was really helping them feel needed again.
The positive impact was twofold and multigenerational, changing the lives of the volunteers and the children who would soon be playing on the playground they built."
– Gina Lazo, Coral Gables, FL
Gina has built 2 playgrounds with KaBOOM!, so far, and knows how important it is to get kids outside playing and away from computers and video games.
Play it forward with a donation today so we can keep engaging great community volunteers like Gina.
On May 20th, KaBOOM!, Meredith Nicholson Indiana Public School 96, Clarian Health and IU Health built a great new place to play in Indianapolis. In the first week the kids were able to use the playground there were zero discipline issues- which was unheard of!
The children are incredibly active. They love the playground and are playing non-stop. Some local high school students came to help from different schools. One of the students had gone through IPS 96 and he kept talking about how much he wished he had that playground when he was younger. The high schoolers feel great ownership over the project, and are excited to bring their younger siblings to the park. In addition, people that were helping the school for the first time at the build are looking to continue to volunteer at IPS 96.
Play it forward with a donation today so we can keep making a difference in communities like Indianapolis.
KaBOOM! National Partner JetBlue is looking for your help to decide where they should build one of their next KaBOOM! playgrounds! The Vote Where We Play Sweepstakes offers Facebook fans the ability to help pick the next city for a playground as well as a chance to win a weekend getaway to any JetBlue travel destination.
JetBlue is celebrating our partnership with KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to saving play, that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Together, JetBlue and KaBOOM! have moved 16 tractor trailers full of mulch and brought together 2,830 volunteers to build 11 playgrounds, which serve 5,680 children every year.
In 2012 we look forward to building five more KaBOOM! playgrounds in JetBlue cities! We are jetting off to build playgrounds Long Beach, CA in February, San Juan, PR in March, Boston, MA in June and New York, NY in September; and we want YOU to vote on the lucky city that will receive our 15th playground!
UPDATE: The voting period has ended, and we would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to residents of the San Francisco Bay Area! You'll be getting a new playground in August 2012!
You may remember our Scary Playgrounds: Let’s Find ‘Em and Fix ‘Em contest last Halloween, when we asked for photos of playgrounds that were in desperate need of repair. Our grand prize winner, Dan Watson of Fredonia, Ariz. recently wrote to let us know what they’re doing with the $1,000 VISA Gift Card they received:
"We are still adding equipment to the park as we remodel our larger park.
The timing turned out really well, our local LDS ward was looking for a service project, so they helped paint the jungle gym, remove weeds from the basketball court, paint the court’s stripes and the basketball standards. We purchased curbing and engineered wood chips from local sources to make the playground safer. We replaced the backboards and rims. We moved a climber from our other park and are in the process of bringing over a slide and a 4-seat bouncer. We are rehabilitating the pieces now before we reinstall them. That will double the amount of equipment in the park.
We are also planning to add benches and tables and there is a movement to add a sand volleyball court. We are looking into the design and costs now. The only thing left that we really want to do is replace the jungle gym with a new small play structure.
We are still raising funds for our large park community build so it’s going have to wait for a while. But we are excited about breathing new life into this park and we again want to say thank you for your assistance.
We are proud to say it’s not the scariest park anymore."
Town of Fredonia
Thank you Fredonia for taking the initiative to fix up your playground! We hope the kids – and adults – enjoy it for years to come.
Twenty-five hundred citizens from around the world have descended on the snowy ski resort of Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum's annual meeting. This year's theme is The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models. I like that it is about ‘shaping' new models and not necessarily ‘creating' them.
The diversity of people and confluence of ideologies is prevalent and core to the lively and smart discussions. Nowhere is the diversity more evident than in the outlook of the world's future. From my conversations thus far I have been struck by the conflict between those who are incredibly optimistic and carry a high level of confidence that new and better solutions are being developed through impactful innovators vs. those who are much more pessimistic about the future and the increasing number and power of the prolonged world crises we are experiencing.
Those bordering on pessimism believe that the new reality is here to stay. I am much more aligned to the optimists. And frankly, I have been struck by the optimism that is a common outlook of most of the social entrepreneurs. It seems rationale that a social entrepreneur exists because he/she is focused on creating solutions to our world's problems. We believe that our society's biggest challenges are solvable, and that, as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus said, "the distance between the impossible and possible is shrinking."
One idea that I am certain is a game changer for all of us is the idea of collective impact. No one business, no one government, no single sector can do it alone. Multiple stakeholders need to have shared values because they truly have shared responsibilities. By taking collective action we can have collective impact, and that will be our fastest and most powerful path to the necessary solutions.
It was an incredibly exciting first day of Davos. While today is the first official day of the WEF, yesterday was a pre-forum day spent with Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs. Between the programming of the brilliant and thoughtful Schwab Foundation's team and the talent of the Social Entrepreneurs in the room, it would have been worth the journey to Davos even if it were my only day here.
How can one not be optimistic about the new models we can shape and the resulting transformations we can have just based on the idealism, experience and perseverance in that room? I look forward to the continuing debate over the next couple of days. I was on a panel this morning for a session called The Creative Workplace. I will share more about that in an upcoming blog.
George Mohacsi is the President and CEO of Foresters, a life insurance provider committed to the well-being of families. Foresters and KaBOOM! began their partnership in 2006 when the organizations built four playgrounds across the U.S.
Since then, the partnership has grown tremendously - Foresters has committed more than $7 million to KaBOOM!, with nearly 100 playgrounds being built across the U.S. and Canada by 2013. Foresters has also become a KaBOOM! National Partner and a founding member of the KaBOOM! Leadership Circle—a group of organizations providing long-term guidance and support to KaBOOM!.
Mohacsi and KaBOOM! Founder and CEO Darell Hammond sat down to talk about Foresters commitment to KaBOOM! and why Foresters believes in creating opportunities for families to spend quality time together. Below is a snippet from the interview. The full version can be read here.
Darell: George, I’d like to start by letting you know that everyone at KaBOOM! is so pleased with our partnership, to say nothing of the many children and families our playgrounds will eventually serve. I’m curious to know what first motivated you and your team to support KaBOOM.
George: Thanks Darell—we are excited as well. Foresters is all about families. Everything we do – from our valuable member benefits, to our support for charitable partners like KaBOOM!, right down to the financial security provided by our insurance products – ties directly to our purpose of enhancing the well-being of families and communities.
An important element of well-being is family time. So, it’s important for us to create opportunities for families to spend time together, to play and to be active – which is exactly what we’re doing in our partnership with KaBOOM! Plus, we invite our members – Foresters customers – out to volunteer at the builds, allowing them to enjoy family time while making a difference.
Darell: I’ve been struck by the commitment of Foresters volunteers and their spirit and enthusiasm at playground builds—it’s absolutely contagious. As you know, KaBOOM! has worked hard to continually innovate our community-build process. I enjoyed mixing cement with you at our build in Toronto and would love to hear about your impressions on building a playground with us.
George: I have loved attending builds! The build site just comes alive with everyone shoveling mulch, building benches and putting together the playground. And with our fun, family activities, it’s great that kids can get involved too. This allows families to spend the day together.
I must also say that I am continuously amazed by how KaBOOM! is able to coordinate bringing hundreds of volunteers together to work in unison to build an amazing place to play in less than eight hours. It truly provides such as sense of accomplishment for me, as well for our volunteers.