“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.
"I am an advocate for play because of the social, emotional and physical development benefits it provides for children. No other activity can accomplish these developmental elements at one time like play. A trip to a Polish orphanage changed my life. I saw first-hand what happens to kids who do not have the same opportunities for play as their counterparts in America. As a result of this first trip, I’ve built two playgrounds in Poland and two Polish children from the orphanage are now my son and daughter.
After my first trip to the orphanage I knew I had to act, and I learned more about KaBOOM! I attended their annual playground-building training and received a grant that allowed me to complete my tool kit which would eventually travel with me to Poland and help construct those playgrounds. Thanks to the resources and knowledge from KaBOOM!, endless translations, SKYPE, extensive fundraising and hours upon hours of hard work we were able to complete one playground at a rural Polish orphanage (Dom Dziecka) and another at an elementary school in the city of Poznan."
– Mark White, Lees Summit, MO
Mark took our online tools and resources and put them to work building 2 great new places to play for kids who really needed it.
Play it forward with a donation today so we can keep improving our online tools and resources and support community builders like Mark across the country, and the world.
On June 11th, 2011, KaBOOM!, St. Joseph Immigrant Women's Centre and Foresters built a great new place to play in Hamilton, Ontario. The Women's Centre residents have started a local community group, working together to continually discuss situations happening on the property and how they'd like to progress things for the positive. Some of the community members involved in the planning process and many community members at the build are also starting a neighborhood association. They will be meeting weekly to discuss ways to continually improve on what is already at the center.
Play it forward with a donation today, because it may start with a playground, but it doesn't end there.
On March 11th, 2011, KaBOOM!, the Cedar Crest Community Center and Dr Pepper Snapple Group built a great new place to play in Dallas. The group of seniors that helped prep and serve food were ecstatic to help out with a project. When you're a senior, you don't get called to help that much and they were overjoyed to be such an important part of Build Day.
Play it forward with a donation today so we can keep engaging volunteers of all ages across the country.
"Our park was dead, high grass, two swings and basically it was going to be closed. Then, Mike Winnegate started a team with 12 players and KaBOOM! came in and built a playground. This was something the park had never had. Chris Paul and the Hornets saw a community working with KaBOOM!, Marriott, City of New Orleans, Friends of NORD, and NORD and provided helpers and repaired our basketball court.
Now, on any given day children from all over the community are playing at the park. The seniors are using the benches and tables provided by KaBOOM! to sit, read, play table games and families are having picnics. The entire community is once again enjoying the outdoors. The sweet sounds of children laughing and playing, laughter from the adults and stories being told by the elders fills the air of our park and our community. Watching them takes turns on the slides and on the basketball court is amazing because they are playing together without an adult instructing them on how to play fair.
After a hard day on the job, I will stop at the park just to sit a watch. The joy my sprit feels just watching the kids’ having a great time brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart of hearts. I never in my life would have guessed that something so simple in this world of technology could bring so much joy to so many.
Words could never express how much KaBOOM! has given to inspire a community."
– Madaline Trepagnier, New Orleans, LA
Play it forward with a donation today so we can keep building up community’s like Madaline’s.