We have long asserted that playgrounds and gardens go hand in hand—they both nourish communities and help keep kids healthy.
KaBOOM! was recently invited to attend a fall harvest at a very special community garden—at the White House—with First Lady Michelle Obama, White House Chefs Sam Kass and Cris Comerford, Let’s Move Executive Director Judith Palfrey, and a few dozen local children.
If you think your community doesn't have the resources to match the White House garden, you might be surprised to learn that the first White House planting only cost $200. And the small bee hive (pictured below), which is tended to by White House carpenter Charlie Brandt, houses around 70,000 bees.
Throughout the afternoon, we discussed the importance of both good nutrition and physical activity. Palfrey asserted that one of the most important things parents can do to help solve childhood obesity is to make sure their children get to "run and jump and play."
On the way to the kitchen, we passed the White House playground, which sits adjacent to the community garden, and then got some tips on good nutrition from Chef Cris Comerford (pictured above).
Raising healthy kids isn't as difficult as parents might think. But as Let's Move and KaBOOM! both recognize, kids who grow up in "food deserts" and "play deserts" are less likely to have access to veggies and outdoor play opportunities. That's why, according to our motto, a healthy childhood "starts with a playground" -- and a community garden.
Because play and nutrition go hand in hand, we’re thrilled to announce that Chobani Champions, the first Greek yogurt made for kids, will support our SAVE PLAY campaign to serve one million kids with a great place to play this year.
As part of the program, Chobani Champions is granting three Imagination Playground™ in a Box™ sets to local community organizations in connection with the Champions Mobile Tour that’s bringing tasty cups of Champions to fans along the East Coast this fall. To learn more, visit chobanichampions.com/events.
Thanks to generous support from Chobani and their Shepherd’s Gift Foundation, the company’s charitable arm, KaBOOM! is excited to announce Save Play Imagination Playground™ in a Box Grants. Imagination Playground™ is a breakthrough playspace concept designed to encourage child-directed, unstructured free play. See it in action:
Know of a deserving community organization in Miami? The grant application deadline for Miami is coming up on Oct. 25.Contact the KaBOOM! Grants Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to apply.
This week, we are proud to honor 151 cities and towns across the country that make play a priority and use innovative programs to get children active, playing, and healthy. Playful City USA, a national recognition program spanning 38 states and one territory, asks honorees to develop unique local action plans to increase access to play in their communities.
In the fifth year of the annual program, 19 Playful City USA communities received recognition for the fifth consecutive year, 24 earned honors for the fourth time, 29 for the third time, and 30 for the second time, while 49 claimed their first Playful City USA designation.
Towns and cities across the country are showing off their Playful City USA pride. Is your hometown celebrating its Playful City USA honor? Send us photos and we'll feature them in a future blog post!
Riverside, Calif. (left) and Dothan, Ala. (right)
York, Pa. (left) and Miami Lakes, Fla. (right)
Creedmoor, N.C. (left) and Fishers, Ind. (right)
Is your city playful? See our full list here.
We are proud to announce that our CEO and Founder Darell Hammond has been recognized as a U.S. Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship! Darell joins a global network of leading social entrepreneurs from over 40 countries.
Schwab is recognizing Darell for pioneering our innovative community build model, which mobilizes communities in need around creating safe places to play. KaBOOM! has not only directly implemented this model in over 2,000 communities across North America, but we have also made our tools and resources available for anyone to access online, enabling thousands of DIY playground-building projects.
Darell is being recognized alongside Elizabeth Hausler of BuildChange, which is changing practices of home building in earthquake-prone regions like China, Indonesia and Haiti, and Dan Viederman of Verité, which ensures that people around the world work under safe, fair, and legal conditions.
"Despite working in very different sectors, these organizations share one thing in common," says Mirjam Schoning, Senior Director, Head of Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. "They have developed strategic partnerships with the private and public sector to solve social problems. By developing innovative models that combine the strengths of government, business and civil society, they are able to accelerate their social impact, delivering better results for more people as cost-effectively as possible."
Four months ago, the kids at Phil Campbell Elementary School in northern Alabama had their lives turned upside down—literally. It was on a Wednesday, at 10:45 a.m., that the first storm warnings sounded. The school was quickly evacuated before the mid-afternoon tornadoes hit, but one of its teachers and two of its students would never return.
They were three of the 28 people who died in this tight-knit, rural community of 1,000. The tornadoes also took away the school’s playground, which was the only playground in town. After such a tragedy, a playground was exactly what these children needed to heal and recover.
Like most folks in Phil Campbell, lifelong resident Kim Sherrill grew up climbing on monkey bars, sliding, swinging and creating imaginary worlds with her friends. Kim understands the healing power of play, and she is determined to do whatever she can to replace that playground. That’s why she reached out to us.
Kim says, "They need a place to run and play and be kids again, away from the rubble and pain. Some of these children lost family members—one even lost his leg. We need a playground that is safe and fun; for a child, play is therapeutic and necessary."
Help us fill the empty field at Phil Campbell Elementary School with playing children by chipping in for Imagination Playground™ blocks.
We hope to give the kids in Phil Campbell an Imagination Playground™TM, a revolutionary new play system that encourages unstructured, creative play. Engaging a child’s body and mind simultaneously, Imagination Playground™ consists of large blue foam blocks, similar to life-size tinker toys. These blocks let children create fairy houses, rocket ships, castles, or anything else that they imagine.
Join us in giving the kids in Phil Campbell not just a place to play, but an outlet to heal and to work through their tangled emotions in a safe and comforting environment. We can’t rebuild roofs, restore livelihoods or bring back lost loved ones, but we can bring play back to the children of Phil Campbell, Alabama.
Let’s get started! Make your contribution today.
Exciting news -- KaBOOM! was featured on the Today Show this morning! Reported by Jenna Bush Hager, the segment profiled our 2,000 playground builds and our CEO and Founder Darell Hammond's bestselling book, KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play.
Jenna Bush Hager and a film crew visited a KaBOOM! playground in Philadelphia and spoke to KaBOOM! alumnus Imanni Wilkes. The crew then traveled to Mooseheart, the group home where Darell lived from age four to 18, and captured Darell talking to the kids who are current residents of the "child city."
The crew also visited Lawrence, Mass. on June 9, 2011 to see a KaBOOM! playground build in action.
The Today Show producer says the segment is one of their best and brought tears of joy to production staff and editors. Watch it now!
We were touched to see over 400 people send KaBOOM! 15th birthday wishes via our online card! We brought a 171-page (!) printed copy to our 2000th playground build on Wednesday, June 15 so that the First Lady herself could add her signature and birthday message.
If you haven't signed our card yet, it's not too late! Click here to send your birthday wishes.
KaBOOM! is also happy to accept birthday gifts, which will be sure to put a smile on a child's face. Each gift will help us build our next 2,000 playgrounds so that we can get one step closer to our vision of a playground within walking distance of every child.
Click here to send your gift.
Join the First Lady and our staff in wishing KaBOOM! a very Happy Birthday!
Over the past week, leading up to yesterday's 2000th build and 15th birthday celebration with First Lady Michelle Obama, we have been reminiscing about our 15 years of building playgrounds by posting photos from our archives to our Facebook page -- and asking YOU to caption them.
The one million volunteers who have pitched in their time and sweat to help us build 2,000 playgrounds know that it's a lot of work. Yet, as these photos demonstrate, we don't forget to leave some time for play!
Help us choose the winners of our Photo Caption Challenge by hitting the 'Like' button for up to three of your favorite captions per photo. You'll be sure to giggle!
Vote by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, June 19. Winners receive a KaBOOM! T-shirt or water bottle, and an everlasting sense of triumph.
As early as 5:30 this morning, purple-shirted volunteers could be seen congregating at Imagine Southeast Public Charter School in Washington, DC to build our 2000th playground and celebrate our 15th birthday. Imagine Southeast, a tuition-free public charter school, has had no playground equipment at all for its 480 students—but that was all about the change.
After a week of extreme heat, we were relieved to find the sun shining not quite-so-fiercely, as hours of mulch-shoveling, concrete-mixing, slide-hoisting, and other physically demanding tasks lay ahead of us. The day officially kicked off with some invigorating warm-up exercises around 8:30 a.m. Among those in attendance were 150 parents and staff from Imagine Southeast, over 85 Boomers (KaBOOM! staff), and AmeriCorps volunteers. We wasted no time getting to work: There were rock walls to assemble; gardens to plant; picnic tables to build; and murals to paint.
As afternoon approached, some semblance of a playground was starting to emerge and the mulch pile looked quite a bit less daunting. Still, we knew we could use some extra hands, and luckily, help was on the way. Joining us were some very special volunteers from the White House – members of Congress, who were participating in the 2011 Congressional Day of Service Event; the Honorable Arne Duncan (below left); and First Lady Michelle Obama!
Said the First Lady, "You all make sure you help take care of this playground. You make sure that kids get over here and play. We want you all moving." Mrs. Obama is not a playground-building novice -- in June 2009, she joined California First Lady Maria Shriver at Bret Harte Elementary School in San Francisco to transform the school’s vacant play lot into an intergenerational playground and garden.
But this time, Mrs. Obama wanted to try her hand at something new. "I’m going to mix concrete!" she announced. "It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to mix concrete." We quickly put the First Lady, the Honorable Duncan, and our Congress members to work, and in just over an hour, the finished playground sparkled under the afternoon sun.
As Mrs. Obama prepared to cut the ribbon (above right, with our CEO and Founder Darell Hammond), we hummed “Happy Birthday” to KaBOOM! through hundreds of purple and orange kazoos to close out a thoroughly exhausting, thoroughly rewarding day.
Our 2,000th build was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with the participation of our National Partners Dr Pepper Snapple, Foresters, Kraft Foods Foundation, JetBlue, and MetLife Foundation. It represents the collective effort of not just the hundreds of volunteers who were present, but also the one million volunteers who over the past 15 years have contributed their time and sweat to give 5,501,334 children a great place to play.
All photos by Chris Sopher, courtesy of the Knight Foundation.
As you may know, next week we'll be celebrating our 15th birthday by building our 2000th playground at Imagine Southeast Public Charter School! We're honored that our 2,000th build has also been designated The Congressional Day of Service Event for 2011!
How will a playground help transform Imagine Southeast? We've already heard from the students of Imagine Southeast, who shared with us their dream playground designs. And we heard from an Imagine Southeast teacher, Mrs. Shacola Nickens, who emphasized the importance of play in education.
But we haven't heard yet from the parents of Imagine Southeast, who are just as excited about the playground as their children!
Vickie Moore says, "My son is so looking forward to the playground at ISE. He tells me that for so long when they had outdoor recess they had absolutely nothing to play with. All they did was run and play tag....now he knows he will have a variety of playground equipment to play with."
Adds Fran Jackson, "My daughter loves to climb and swing. So I know she will be entertained with the beautiful playground. Having a playground at school will help relieve some of her energy before we go home. I keep reminding myself that all the work is for a good cause and the end result will make the children happy."
Mr. Mills think the playground is "a great idea! [It] will help the children learn how to interact with one another and develop important communication skills as well.”
Learn more about our 2000th build and join us in celebrating 15 years and 2,000 playgrounds by signing our online birthday card! Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to see the playground build in action on June 15!