"I am fighting to save recess at our elementary schools and was referred to KaBOOM! as our fight got started. I have found valuable research and a supportive community at KaBOOM!.
Our fight has progressed slowly but we haven’t given up, and when I feel the stress that comes from being outspoken in our community I find much renewed strength by visiting the online community at KaBOOM!."
– Sarah Brown, Houston, TX
Play it forward to keep motivating play advocates like Sarah across the country.
"I was already running a playgroup, but the KaBOOM! webinar, Get Outside: an All-Weather Guide to Outdoor Playgroups, made me take the initiative to set up an 'Outdoor Playgroup' within our existing playgroup. Usually we try to meet outside anyway, but during winter in New England, that's not always the first impulse- many people just want to stay inside- we also have a lot of southern people who have relocated to this area and they find it hard to get out with the kids.
So, I figured starting 'Outdoor Playgroup' in the winter was a good idea. We've had really great turnouts to most of the events, and now that it's getting warmer I'm hoping that attendance will increase as well. One member who came to our outing this week said they hadn't been to a playground since the fall."
– Courtney Gallagher, New England
Play it forward with a donation today to help us host more online trainings to inspire people like Courtney to brave the weather and play outside in all seasons.
"I got involved with KaBOOM! through an employee at our local YMCA. I feel that providing a safe place for the kids in the community is a great idea. I am a grandparent of 7 boys and all they do is video games or baseball.
By having a place where they can play, it will get them some much needed exercise. Becoming a volunteer is a rewarding experience because you know you helped build a safe place for families to their kids to play.
I also met many wonderful people who took their time out of their job or household chores to come and build a fun place. It was fun with music, laughter and a joy to see the kids playing on their new playground."
– Leopold Chapa, Baytown, TX
Play it forward with a donation today if you’ve ever had a great experience on a KaBOOM! Build Day like Leo.
"Eagle Scout is the highest rank in the Boy Scouts. Most guys spend a few months, maybe even 6 months, working on a cap stone service project in their community. That’s great, but I wanted to do something more. I was born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. My parents, Dwight & Jennifer, adopted me when I was just a year old. Thinking about my Eagle Scout project I read some of the journals my parents kept when they were in the process of adopting me and I was struck by the description of the playground at the hospital I was born in – it was just a small rusted swing with a rotten seat and a sand pit filled with mud. That just wasn’t right – and I was going to fix it.
It took two and half years of planning and over 700 hours of work, but on August 12th, my 16th birthday, I helped build a brand new playground at that hospital. There were so many challenges along the way, language and distance among, them that I was so glad to have found the KaBOOM! online playground project planner. The easy step-by-step process led me through what I would need to do to build this playground, and since I’d never done anything like that before they quickly became my go-to resource."
– Alex Griffith, Forest Hill, MD
Alex overcame all the hurdles associated with building a new playground across an ocean and in a different language, and succeeded in building an amazing new playground for hundreds of kids.
Play it forward with a donation today to support playground builders like Alex, and all the ones to come.
"In 2007, we were notified that our playground no longer met safety codes. It was made of wood that had been treated with arsenic. Even though it was the heart of our co-operative community (and the whole world to the kids) it had to be removed. We were broken hearted.
After a recession that left us close to bankruptcy, we could simply not afford to replace it. But I had to find a way to get the kids a playground. I heard about KaBOOM! and sent in an application. After several months had gone by, we got a call from the KaBOOM! staff to tell us we had been chosen. They had found a sponsor and were going to help us build a new playground. It was like winning the lottery!
When it rains, it pours, which is exactly what happened the day and night before our build day, leaving a thick sloppy field of mud, approximately 6" to a foot deep. I was panicked that we wouldn't be able to build, that volunteers would take one look at the mud and bolt - but I was wrong. People did leave, but only to go home to get boots and then come right back.
At the end of the day, the mud made the end result that much sweeter. The feeling we got from the accomplishment, the feeling the kids got from knowing they were involved, it was so much more - it was like a barn raising! After Build Day people were genuinely nicer to each other. Parents hung out on our new benches while their children played together. Since the kids were involved in building it, they take amazing care of the playground. What would we have done without KaBOOM!?"
– Jackie O’Hearn, Brampton, ON
Jackie helped lead her community to replace a playground and bring the heart of their housing co-operative back.
Play it forward with a donation today, so we can continue building hearts of communities.
"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.
A couple months back we announced that Chobani Champions was supporting our SAVE PLAY campaign by granting three Imagination Playground™ in a Box™ sets to local community organizations. KaBOOM! is happy to report that the tour is over and three communities in Hartford, Conn.; Miami, Fla.; and Boston, Mass. now have innovative mobile playgrounds!
Here's a video from the gifting ceremony at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club:
"Hurricane Katrina was the most devastating storm to ever hit the United States. The small towns of Waveland and Bay St Louis, Mississippi looked like we had been bombed – it looked like a war zone. My godchild, Ginny Vegas Reynolds, now living in Connecticut, remembered growing up in Bay St. Louis and after Hurricane Camille she and her friends had no place to play. Ginny contacted childhood friends Cheryl Carlson Goodnow in Massachusetts and Joellyn Frisbie Gilmore, my daughter in Diamondhead, a community just north of Bay St. Louis, to coordinate a way to get a playground.
In a matter of days Ginny was back in touch. She had made a connection with Darell Hammond, CEO of KaBOOM! The next thing we knew Darell was here to evaluate the situation. Within days a site was selected, KaBOOM! was getting corporate sponsors. Local children became involved with their playground wish lists and a design was developed.
The Morkin’s home, which prior to the hurricane had been a bed and breakfast was across the street from the playground site. They immediately opened their home to the staff of KaBOOM! as did the Gilmore’s. They were able to sign up more than 600 volunteers to help build the playground. By mid-December the big trucks rolled in with all the equipment, the design staked off and the build began.
It started with breakfast at 7:30 am, then the build was nonstop except for staggered volunteer lunch breaks. It was cold but no one complained. At 3pm the playground was complete. We all stood in wonder!! It was unbelievable! Oh! What a day!
Now, 6 years later, it is still beautiful. I pass the playground almost every day. There are always children at play or an adult just sitting on a bench reading a book or just relaxing under an old oak tree. KaBOOM! has been such a blessing to so many children with the additional playgrounds that followed. We love KaBOOM!."
– Nell Frisbee, Bay St. Louis, MS
After Hurricane Katrina KaBOOM! built more than 100 playgrounds on the Gulf Coast. Our work there continues with 3 builds in New Orleans in just the past 3 months.
Play it forward with a donation today because in the midst of a disaster kids need play more than ever.
"I’ve been fortunate enough to build three KaBOOM! playgrounds with the Junior League of Pittsburgh. Each of the three days brought its own challenges and successes, but as any KaBOOM! build volunteer will tell you, it’s all worth it to see that amazing new playground up at the end of the day. And while three new playgrounds is great, at Easter dinner in 2007 my family and I realized that we could do more.
Using my knowledge from the past KaBOOM! builds along with the tools and resources on kaboom.org, my mother, my aunt and myself began planning for a new place to play in our neighborhood. When the project felt like an uphill battle, and it often did, we reminded each other that a playground is essential to the health of our neighborhood; and that our efforts would make an impact on generations of children. We all need play, regardless of our age or socioeconomic status. Play is essential for happiness and growth.
The best part of Build Day was the volunteers. Their enthusiasm, excitement and willingness to work was contagious and made for a fun, festive environment. Giving freely of their time and talents for a cause bigger than themselves shaped a sense of pride in our community and in each other.
The new playground and the community’s involvement in Build Day sparked an interest in the community to do more. We’re currently planning a Play Day, as well as continuing the fundraising efforts for life-long-sports facilities."
– Gretchen Smathers, Pittsburgh, PA
Gretchen wouldn’t stop after 1, 2, or even 3 new playgrounds. Since completing the community-built playground project in 2008 she’s gone on to build another playground with KaBOOM! and isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon.
Play it forward with a donation today to help support play advocates like Gretchen, and the rest of her family.
"Late afternoon one day, when I was just six years old, I heard a series of loud cracking noises. Suddenly, my grandmother pushed me and my sister down and threw her body on top of us. When we woke the next day, I learned that a drive by shooting happened the night before.
It was in that moment that I became aware of the reality of poverty and violence in my neighborhood. Although my father was addicted to drugs and never around and my mother struggled to raise my sister and I on clerk’s wages, I was blessed with teachers, family and community members who helped me stay focused on my dreams and efforts to go to college. It wasn't until I visited South Africa in 2001 and saw shanty towns, that I understood where poverty, privilege and power intersect and realized that no one should have to grow up the way I did, or for that matter, the way the South African kids were either.
As I grew older, I came to learn that 31 people in my family were in prison, and just 1 of us was in college - me. I went on to graduate school and decided to return to my community, Inglewood, to teach critical literacy to black male youth at Morningside High School and help them experience what I felt when I went to South Africa. At Morningside, I founded the Black Male Youth Academy where I work with students and community members to use research in order to identify social issues in our community and then find solutions.
Two years ago, they decided to tackle food justice and began an initiative called "100 Seeds of Change" where they are creating 100 urban gardens – community, school and home gardens. Our program got a big lift this March at a KaBOOM! playground build where my BMYA students led the construction of a wonderful new community garden, next to the brand new playground in Inglewood.
That day, we helped move the 20 tons of soil into over 50 garden beds that were then filled with vegetables, fruits, flowers, and plants. There was a stage and 9 benches to transform a once unsavory concrete desert into an outdoor classroom that stood in front of a custom mural. Two picnic tables turned a barren wading pool into a pleasant lunching spot. A storage box was placed near the garden beds for onsite access to tools and supplies and future plans include the building of an 'outdoor kitchen' that will allow for the community to grow, harvest, prepare, and eat in the same space as where they play and gather.
Both myself, and my students left feeling empowered at the end of the day, and I know we’ll be able to do even more now."
– Dart Scorza, Inglewood, CA
Dart was already a leader in his community, and with the help of KaBOOM! he was able to empower even more people.
Play it forward today to help us work with more leaders like Dart.