Three weeks ago the town of Ottawa, Kansas built their first playground accessible to children with physical challenges. They’d never come together to do anything quite like this, and weren’t sure exactly where to start. But, the KaBOOM! online planner showed them how, step by step. Tara says the new playground is “a double excitement” for her family because her epileptic daughter can play there, and her wheelchair-bound mother can join the fun, too.
Kelley is excited too– her daughter has spina bifida, which renders most playground equipment out of reach. The new swings with protective bars are “almost like a rocket seat---she’s always wanted to go faster, and now she can safely.” Sonny, who’s in third grade, spent his summer collecting change at local gas stations to raise money for the new playground. He ended up surpassing his goal and collected $337 all in honor of his five-year-old brother who had died a few months before.
“Play it forward” with a donation today to help more communities follow Ottawa’s lead in 2012.
Does your playground need a spruce-up? Follow the lead of these three inspiring communities, who have used Let's Play Spruce Grants to clean, paint, and green their playspaces:
Julian, Calif.: On June 17, 2011, 20 seventh and eighth graders volunteered during their summer vacation to help re-paint black top games at the elementary school’s "Peaceful Playground." The idea for the project originated during the previous school year when these middle-school students volunteered one lunch hour per week to mentor elementary-school students during recess, helping them to peacefully resolve conflicts while developing positive relationships with the younger students.This school year, the 7th graders will be offering a similar mentorship experience on the newly spruced-up playground.
Houston, Tex.: On August 20, 2011, a diverse, 14-person Spruce Team gathered for four hours to plant new heat-loving plants, rake out the engineered wood fiber, and pick up trash and debris around the playground. In spite of the oppressive heat, the atmosphere was one of good cheer and thoughtful collaboration between the school community and local businesses. Thanks to the hard work of these volunteers, over 450 children came back to find their school playground looking as good as it did when it was first built four years ago.
Providence, R.I.: After Hurricane Irene, a neighborhood team organized a 24-hour "heal-a-thon" for Brown Street Park. They used social media (Twitter and Facebook) and their website to get the word out. Over 45 volunteers respond to this plea throughout the 24-36 hour period. They piled up debris, moved dead tree limbs out of the way, cleaned up the plant beds, weeded, picked up trash, cleaned graffiti, and installed new garden signs. Children were encouraged to help! And help they did! Today the beloved community park is looking better than ever.
What's a Play Day? Well, it's exactly what the name implies. A Play Day helps build awareness for the importance of play, strengthen your community, and bring old-fashioned fun to your neighborhood.
There's still time to hold a Play Day this fall, and we offer free tools and resources to get you started. Meanwhile, get inspired by these photos from Play Days around the country:
Fontana, Ariz. "organized several picnic style games and activities including: hula till you drop, potato sack races, cha cha slide dance contest, and the Rock Paper Scissors Championship of Fontana!!"
Playful City USA Mount Holly, N.C. held a Play Day to celebrate "the official opening and dedication to the new playground at Woodlawn and improved amenities, games, activities, refreshments and prizes."
Activities at Playful City USA Coventry, Conn. "included a climbing wall, moon bounce, inflatable basketball challenge, a costume swap, face painting, pumpkin carving, pony rides... hoop dancing, sports, a giant chess set... and a costume parade and contest!"
Playful City USA Lyerly, Ga. "hosted two Play Days... and both were huge successes! On Thursday, all of the special education students in our county joined at our park for the first Play Day. This was the first time ever that all those kids had the chance to be all together at the same time and place. They also got to test our brand new Jennswing, which allowed several kids who normally aren't able to participate the chance to swing alongside their peers!"
Ready to organize your own Play Day? Get started here.
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!