NBC News today unveiled the first in a series designed to help parents get back to the basics. In this story about the importance of creative play, they talk to KaBOOM! Founder and CEO, Darell Hammond, about the power of the playground.
“Our philosophy here at The Goddard School is all about play. We believe that children learn best through spontaneous exploration of their environment. When it came time for an addition to our school we found ourselves questioning the appropriate play ground for this new space, since we already had a traditional playground in our original building.
We know that kids are attracted to colorful play structures and slides, but the stationary playground structures offer little room for imagination and creativity. We really felt that it was important to find something that would encourage the kids to run freely and to create their own games and fun.
We have been thrilled with Imagination Playground™. This amazing model contains movable parts so that children create and build their own unique playground every day, tear it down and start again the next day. Thus, the play area never looks the same from day to day.
One year later we have had the opportunity to observe what the children have created over time. We have witnessed everything from American Idol stages, to Fire Trucks, to Ice Cream stands being constructed. We also moved our Imagination Playground™ outside this past summer where the kids added water and their own loose found parts to enhance their creative play. We couldn't be more thrilled with its fabulous success here at The Goddard School located in Concord Twp, Ohio.”
– Kristina Turk, Concord Twp, OH
Kristina and the staff at the Goddard School have discovered the limitless bounds of a child’s imagination through Imagination Playground™.
Play it forward today so we can help bring Imagination Playground™ to kids across the country.
“Playgrounds are places where children can be children. Where imaginations run wild and first friendships are formed. It is where a child may resolve his first conflict or put his negotiating skills to the test in his first debate.
Playgrounds are places where leaders are formed, where laughter rules the castle and under-dogs learn to fly using swings. Confidence is built by tackling the monkey bars or climbing to the top of the rock wall. Play lays the foundation to becoming a confident, self reliant, productive, and happy adult.”
– Shannon Schafer, Safety Harbor, FL
Play it forward with a donation today if you believe in the importance of play.
“I will be using much of the KaBOOM! webinar information as I revisit my playground committees. As you are well aware, school systems are struggling with financing which has direct consequences on staffing. Some of my key playground committee members at Edison Park Elementary are in job placement limbo, we need to wait to see where the school district places them, as much as we want them back.
Thanks to the webinar and website information, I can start structuring the roles/responsibilities of various committees and reorganize as necessary in the beginning of the school year. We had many teachers and parents volunteer at our last end of the year faculty gathering and plan to start up again immediately at our first PTA/PTSA meeting and opening of schools faculty meetings.
I understand the concept of vague information in times of great uncertainty. I appreciate the reinforcing encouragement you have been able to share. Hopefully it won't take 8 months to get our financing together, but if so, we will keep our playground mission alive and kicking for the long haul.”
– Jackie House, Miami, FL
Play it forward with a donation to help Jackie and other hopeful playground builder dream’s alive.
“I have been fighting against a rising tide of needs in the Spring Valley neighborhood of San Diego for over two decades, always just barely keeping my head above water. For so many years Spring Valley has been defined by what it lacks, not by what it has.
We have an incredibly rich culture with people from every walk of life and background, but what everyone outside saw was an unsafe and transient community. Every year 25% of our school population moved – Spring Valley was an epicenter of foreclosures in 2008 and 2009. As a former juvenile probation officer I know you needed to invest in people early, and that just wasn’t happening.
Then, in February of this year, I was thrilled to help bring about the physical manifestation of the change my community needed. KaBOOM! built a bright, colorful, gorgeous new playground at the Spring Valley Community Center with a walking trail and a community garden.
Thanks to the efforts of a local city council member (who was inspired by the playground project) large green soccer fields now extend behind the playground. Those community gardens, built back in February, are now home to a regional garden education center, where I discovered the green thumb I never knew I had. These gardens have not only grown plants, they’ve grown community.”
– Barbara Warner, Spring Valley, CA
Barbara knows that where you live says a lot about who you are, and her community is now a place where people want to invest and spend time in.
Play it forward to help grow other communities across the country.
"In the beginning I was just a mom who didn’t want her kids to have to go to a school without a playground.
Our current playground had been built 50 years ago, and did not meet current safety standards – it was due to be removed. The district didn’t have the money to replace it, and if our local PTA couldn’t raise the funds, there would be no playground. What’s a mom of two boys to do? Volunteer to lead the playground committee, of course.
I had no idea what I was getting into when I volunteered. I didn’t know about the costs of equipment, safety standards, special wood chips, or working with cities and school districts. All I knew is that we needed a new playground, and fast. I did my homework and we needed to raise $100,000 for our new playground. That’s a pretty big goal for a school with a 50% free and reduced school lunch rate.
That’s when I found KaBOOM!. Their website took me step by step through the playground build process. I got great fund raising ideas, and fell in love with the community build model. We could save money and come together as a community.
Within a year, we had the funding for the majority of our playground build. The community build was an experience I’ll never forget. We had school family members, community members, and even the Mayor at our build!
Thanks to the build, the city became more and more interested in the cause of play. We have been a Playful City USA for the past two years. I help the city with the Playful City application each year, and am part of the play committee for the City of Kenmore. I’m excited that our city values the health and happiness of our youngest residents and understands the importance of play. The city is leading its first community build this spring.
Now I help out other schools in the area when they start a playground project. I am passionate about helping in any way I can to ensure all kids have a safe playspace that they can walk to and enjoy with family and friends."
– Stacey Denuski, Kenmore, WA
Stacey saw a need in her community and she addressed it. Along the way she found the resources and tools she needed from KaBOOM!.
Play it forward so we can keep providing tools and resources to future playground committee chairs, and everyone else looking to make a difference.
"I didn’t know a single person when I moved to Takoma Park, Maryland just over two years ago. But, luckily one of my neighbors turned out to be Pat Rumbaugh, a true force of nature and play advocate for our entire community. She talked me into joining her Takoma Plays! group and I haven’t looked back since.
This past summer I was excited to lead a new project – traveling playgrounds – based on something we used to do in Massachusetts. For 5 weeks, twice a week, we held a playgroup in a different Takoma Park playground. We had music, arts and crafts activities, hula hoops, balls, bubbles, you name it. We provided a fun, free service to our community, and by taking surveys of each playground, got invaluable feedback from residents. We took that feedback and added it to the KaBOOM! Map of Play and now citizens of Takoma Park can find out where the best playgrounds are, and even more importantly, KaBOOM! can see where there aren’t any playgrounds.
When I'm tired, and have a load of laundry to do, and dinner to make, and have zero energy, I know that taking the kids to the park for an hour will rejuvenate me. I believe that communities in which people know each other, interact with each other, and play with each other are safer, healthier, and happier. That’s what keeps me going!"
– Mary Hanisco, Takoma Park, MD
Mary found that play not only helps kids build relationships, but that it’s just as important for adults.
Play it forward with a donation today, and in honor of Mary, get out and play with your kids today!
"We worked on a build in Rockford through the Rockford Park District and MetLife. We have also helped on builds at nearby sites. The change in a neighborhood - the ownership of all ages to build, use and protect their new playground is incredible to see!
I loved every minute of being involved in our May 2010 build and have visited the site several times just to see the happy kids. Thanks to KaBOOM! I am much better informed about the importance of play and have used the planning tools to help plan other events as well. Thanks much!"
– Dave and Judy Roby, Rockford, IL
Play it forward with a donation if you agree with Dave & Judy that play is important!
“I’m the Principal at Pecan Park Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi. Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the country, and every day I look at my students and know that if nothing is done they will literally grow into those statistics. I looked around at my urban, inner city school, with its transient population. Most people saw it as a less than ideal place for a wellness revolution. I disagreed.
For me, it really did start with a playground. In May of 2006 we built our fantastic new KaBOOM! playground, but that was just the beginning. The playground spawned a walking trail around it for students and adults, which inspired 7 cardio stations that popped up along the trail, which leveraged a grant for fresh fruit & vegetable snacks for every kid during the school year.
This year we’ll add a winter and spring garden to the school, and thanks to local community support, our parents have free access to a local gym and trainers come to the school 3 times a week to work with teachers and other school employees. I’m happy to say that since 2006 I’ve literally seen a physical change in my community, and I’m not going to stop now.”
– Wanda Quon, Jackson, MS
Wanda has created a whole new mindset at her school and in her community. It started with a dream, it started with KaBOOM!
Play it forward and help us keep inspiring leaders like Wanda across the country.
"I used to play at Park of the Canals when I was a kid in Mesa, Arizona and always had fond memories of it. But shortly before I moved into the neighborhood with my own family, the playground was removed for safety reasons. Ironically, that resulted in a dramatic decline in park use and it developed a sore reputation for criminal activity.
Mesa was in a budget crisis and had no funds to allocate to park improvements, so it became obvious to me that the only alternative was to mount a community effort to replace the playground and take back our park.
Through the months of planning and coordinating with my community to raise funds and volunteers, my three little girls were my biggest motivation and inspiration. They can spend all day long at a park playing and having fun - but it's not just that, they are exploring, pretending, socializing, learning new things about themselves when they have the space and quality equipment to engage in unstructured play.
For me, more than anything, a good park means more quality time together for families and friends. We are all losing too much of our lives fixated on a TV, computer or cell phone screen - unengaged with our love ones and the world around us."
– Bert Millett, Mesa, AZ
Bert wanted more for his community, and his family, so he stood up and led an amazing community build with knowledge and resources from KaBOOM!
Play it forward with a donation today so dads like Bert can keep building great new places to play.