Go Play!: Non-Profit Organization KaBOOM! Announces List of 93 “Playful City USA” Communities
Communities Across the Country Make Play a Priority Despite Economy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Parents have less disposable income for children’s play-related activities because of the economy and funding for Parks and Recreation departments nationwide continues to dwindle during a time when 82 percent of parents believe kids don’t spend enough time playing outside.
Despite these challenges, 93 communities across the nation have taken innovative approaches to make play a priority to ensure their children have the time and space they need to play. To honor cities and towns making this commitment to play, KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing play back into children’s lives, named them Playful City USA communities.
In the third year of this annual program, 32 of 93 Playful City USA communities were repeat honorees from 2008, while 22 cities were cited for the third consecutive year. Thirty-nine new communities have joined others in making a commitment to children, including Honolulu, Indianapolis and San Antonio. These 93 communities created and implemented programs to positively impact childhood wellness, public safety and the quality of life.
Each of the 2009 Playful City USA communities demonstrated creative commitments to the cause of play in the areas of quantity, quality and access. Quality relates to the number of usable, open playspaces. Quality involves subjective factors that encourage repeated use and make playspaces engaging, exciting, interesting and fun. Access entails the ability to get to a playspace (roads, trails) and a lack of barriers to the playspace (cost, safety, traffic, locked gates, equity).
Playful City USA celebrates and highlights these unique initiatives developed by communities across the country. A primary goal of Playful City USA is to encourage cities and towns to share creative ideas, concepts and programs in an effort to increase play opportunities for children. City initiatives include:
Dothan, Ala. (pop. 65,447)
After incorporating the KaBOOM! community build model for the construction of a playground, the City decided to use this method exclusively for any future playgrounds built in Dothan. The community build model offers a great opportunity to involve neighborhoods, while saving significant costs on construction.
Indianapolis, Ind. (pop. 795,458)
The Indianapolis Parks and Recreation department is conducting a study that would involve converting abandoned housing and vacant lots and turning them into urban mini parks. This project will require that city department resources are combined to increase green spaces and remove abandoned housing, identify clusters of abandoned houses and vacant lots, identify potential mini park spaces, and host public meetings that would solicit the surrounding neighborhoods’ advice on the usage of these spaces.
Las Cruces, N.M. (pop. 86,268)
Las Cruces Public Schools launched a free program called Recess Before Lunch in 2007 to examine what benefits could result. After implementing the program, moving recess before lunch led to a significant improvement in healthy eating habits for the students, a reduction in food waste, and better focus in the classroom after lunch.
San Francisco, Calif. (pop. 808,976)
The San Francisco Neighborhood Parks Council (SFNPC) developed a Playground Report Card which analyzes and rates playspaces in San Francisco. The Report Card gave letter grades to all the playgrounds, with the San Francisco Parks and Recreation department and SFNPC then taking action by bringing all the failing parks up to standard.
Ankeny, Iowa (pop. 42,000)
As part of the Ankeny Comprehensive plan, the highest priority of Ankeny residents was to build a trail system within the community that connects to a regional trail system. The Ankeny to Woodward Trail Steering Committee secured a $1.75 million Vision Iowa grant to develop the 20 miles of trail and construct one of the world’s tallest and longest trail bridges with the project scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2009.
New York, N.Y. (pop. 8,310,212)
The New York City Parks and Recreation Department will break ground and revamp 221 playgrounds that require improvement throughout the City, while also targeting underdeveloped destination parks for each borough in 2009. This City is also working toward the creation of a public plaza in every community in partnership with non-profit groups, particularly in neighborhoods that lack open space.
The KaBOOM! vision is a great place to play within walking distance of every child. Playful City USA communities create best practices, like the ones above, to reach a similar goal. They serve as role models for other communities and prove that enhancing children’s well-being by increasing the opportunity for play is an attainable goal for every community.
“Our country is facing two monumental deficits: a lack of unstructured play among children and a lack of resources to address this very issue,” said Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! CEO and Co-founder. “These 93 communities took a stand and determined that the future of their community—their children—deserve a commitment to the cause of play. This is an investment in the future, not an expenditure and cities and towns across the country can replicate initiatives from these Playful City USA communities so that they too can bring play back into the lives of their children.”
2009 Playful City USA Communities
Baldwin Park, Calif.
Casa Grande, Ariz.
Commerce City, Colo.
Coral Gables, Fla.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Delray Beach, Fla.
#Grand Prairie, Texas
#Green River, Wyo.
#La Mesa, Calif.
*Lake Charles, La.
*Lake Worth, Fla.
Las Cruces, N.M.
#Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.
#Mercer Island, Wash.
Miami Lakes, Fla.
*New Lenox, Ill.
New Port Richey, Fla.
*New Roads, La.
#New York City, N.Y.
Niagara Falls, N.Y.
#Palm Bay, Fla.
#Safety Harbor, Fla.
#St. Petersburg, Fla.
San Antonio, Texas
San Bernardino, Calif.
*San Francisco, Calif.
Takoma Park, Md.
#West Palm Beach, Fla.
* Three-time honoree
# Two-time honoree
2009 Playful City USA Communities by State:
9: Arizona, California
5: North Carolina
4: Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland
3: Illinois, Ohio, Washington
2: Alabama, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wyoming
1: Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina
Applications for 2010 Playful City USA recognition will be available beginning in the fall of 2009.
The KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play, including the Playful City USA program, is made possible via the support of the Omidyar Network.
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since 1995, KaBOOM! has used its innovative community-build model to bring together business and community interests to construct more than 1,600 new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America. KaBOOM! also offers a variety of resources, including an online community, free online trainings, grants, publications and the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play, which includes Playful City USA and Playmakers – a national network of individual advocates for play. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.
Check out this great video of KaBOOM! staffer Lisa Attman-Palmer being interviewed by Anne Pleshette Murphy on ABC News!
Here's a collection of videos covering our playground build with CaliforniaVolunteers, First Lady Michelle Obama, and California First Lady Maria Shriver on June 22. (Some of which have ads at the beginning - apologies.)
California First Lady Maria Shriver and First Lady Michelle Obama speak to playground volunteers (NBC Bay Area News):
ABC 7 local coverage:
Watch the opening session of the National Conference on Volunteering & Service LIVE (2:30 p.m. PDT June 23)
Here are some stories about our build with CaliforniaVolunteers, First Lady Michelle Obama, and First Lady Maria Shriver June 22!
This summer, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have issued a stirring new call for volunteer service. Thanks to the United We Serve initiative, Americans are helping Americans in countless ways. Join with KaBOOM! and pledge your allegiance to play!
Lots more details will be on our site Monday, so stay tuned!
I don't get to feature 50 Cent's blog very often (or ever, really), but there's a first time for everything! Check out his feature on Rev Run helping to build a playground with us this week: Rev Run, Wife Justine pitch in to help build playground
More KaBOOM! in the news:
Play outside to help build a playground (Time Out New York Kids)
Play in the news:
Children ready for new playground (RGJ.com)
Playground makeover could start next week (Lebanon Daily News)
Bland playground a dirty mess (Queens Chronicle)
Tiki takes to Hell’s Kitchen playground (Chelsea Now)
Whittier PTA raising money for playground (Great Falls Tribune)
Next week's Conference on Volunteering and Service in San Francisco, Calif. will not only feature First Lady Michelle Obama and California’s first lady Maria Shiver during the opening session, but will also serve as the official kick-off to the United We Serve summer initiative, a program intended to renew the American spirit of volunteerism and service.
As part of the events surrounding the conference, KaBOOM! and California Volunteers will partner to build a great new place to play at the Bret Harte Elementary School in San Francisco, Calif. on Monday. KaBOOM! will also premiere its United We Serve program, "Pledge Allegiance to Play" next week. Pledge Allegiance to Play will provide volunteers, new and old, with ways they can engage with local issues and improve their communities. Visit kaboom.org then to see all the exciting things you can do to support your community!
The Conference on Volunteering and Service, co-sponsored by the Points of Light Institute and the Corporation for National and Community Service, will serve as the world's largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders from the nonprofit, government, and corporate sectors and aims to recharge, engage and bring back new ideas and civic energy to strengthen the reach and impact of the participating organizations.
Related articles: Michelle Obama's SF visit: The frenzy begins (San Francisco Chronicle) - Michelle Obama to speak Monday at San Francisco conference (Mercury News)
Also, this build has been featured in several news outlets:
I'm so excited for this - check out the press release below! We're going to be posting updates as the build progresses this week on Twitter and in our photo galleries - stay tuned!
Designed by kids, built by volunteers:
Omidyar network, YMCA of Honolulu, national non-profit KaBOOM! work with local volunteers to build playground at YMCA Camp H.R. Erdman
WAIALUA – Oahu’s children will soon have a new, 29,000 square foot playground at the YMCA of Honolulu’s Camp H.R. Erdman that celebrates nature in a fun and exciting way. The new playground is based on drawings provided by children from the Camp and the surrounding area who attended a Design Day in January.
From Wednesday, June 3 through Saturday, June 6, more than 250 volunteers from the YMCA of Honolulu and residents of the community will join forces with organizers from national non-profit KaBOOM! to construct a Nature Built playground at the Camp. The dedication ceremony is at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 6 at the Camp.
The new playground will be a unique blend of natural elements in a landscape designed to serve as a community playground for years to come. Native plants and materials will be used to create the spacious playground, which will also function as an educational tool on environmental sustainability for the Camp’s children.
Features of the new playground include:
The playground will also feature an Imagination Playground™ in a BOX - a portable series of loose parts, sand and water created by KaBOOM! and internationally renowned architect David Rockwell that elicits highly creative and interactive play among children.
“We’ve helped communities build more than 1,600 playspaces in the last 13 years, but this is our very first Nature Built playground,” said Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! CEO and Co-Founder. “When we’re finished, we’ll have a lasting testament to the importance of children having a great place to play, an example of how creativity can inspire environmentally friendly practices and a clear indication of what can be accomplished with the sweat equity of volunteers working together.”
YMCA Camp Erdman has been providing outdoor camp, recreational and environmental education experiences for over 80 years. Each year, children from all over Hawaii visit YMCA Camp Erdman to live, learn and have fun in the great outdoors.
"We are so excited to be selected as the location for the first Nature Built playground of this kind and especially proud of the fact that kids from our community were able to help design it," said Josh Heimowitz, executive director of YMCA Camp Erdman. "Over the years, generations of Hawaii residents have been creating memories at YMCA's Camp Erdman and we are delighted to continue to expand the activities we offer."
Construction on the new playground will commence with a kickoff ceremony on Wednesday, June 3 at 9 a.m. On Wednesday, June 3 through Friday, June 5, volunteers will work on building the playground from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. On Saturday, June 6, volunteers will gather at 9:30 a.m. and work until the playground’s completion in the afternoon. A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held onsite at 3 p.m. A reception and dinner will follow for all volunteers involved with the project.
"As an Oahu resident and mom, I'm happy and humbled to be part of this project. Every child deserves a safe and fun place to play, just as I had growing up here," said Pam Omidyar, co-founder of Omidyar Network. "The KaBOOM! playground on the North Shore will also serve as a catalyst for teaching the next generation about sustainability and respect for our island home."
Additional contributors to the project include: Aloha United Way, Architects Hawaii LTD., Complete Tent Rental, Geico, HFM Food Service, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, Lost at Sea, Rotary Club of Honolulu, Sky Dive Hawaii, TR3EES, Turtle Bay Resort, Waialua Soda Works, Waimea Falls Grill and Y.Hata & Company.
YMCA of Honolulu/Camp H.R. Erdman
For 140 years, the YMCA of Honolulu has been a place where friends and neighbors come together to build strong communities by serving thousands of children, teens and adults. Programs offered include: before and after school care, youth sports, teen leadership programs, camp, substance abuse counseling and treatment, and health and wellness. The YMCA of Honolulu operates nine branches throughout Oahu.
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic, social, and political change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $270 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including microfinance, property rights, government transparency, and social media. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit www.omidyar.com.
KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since 1995, KaBOOM! has used its innovative community-build model to bring together business and community interests to construct more than 1,600 new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America. KaBOOM! also offers a variety of resources, including an online community, regional and national trainings, grants, publications and the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play, which includes Playful City USA and Playmakers – a national network of individual advocates for play. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.
In Lower Manhattan, the Burling Slip project - a joint effort between NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and the Rockwell Group - was officially kicked off May 7 with the celebration of the ground-breaking for the first site-specific Imagination Playground™ in Burling Slip at South Street Seaport!
Our KaBOOM! CEO and COO were there celebrating with our friends from NYC Parks and Recreation and the Rockwell Group, along with 150 adults and 75 kids.
Here's a snippet from the press release:
Imagination Playground is the product of over five years of David Rockwell’s extensive research on play and playgrounds. It is a progressive concept in children’s play that offers a rich environment of diverse materials that encourage unstructured, child-directed “free play,” where children determine their own activities, alone and with their peers. After developing Imagination Playground, Rockwell Group approached the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, who collaborated to realize this new play space at Burling Slip in lower Manhattan.
By Lynne Jensen
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Jan. 22, 2009
Thanks to KaBOOM!, a nonprofit organization that helps communities build playgrounds, children living Uptown, downtown, in eastern New Orleans and along the lakefront are enjoying refurbished play spots in areas that were devastated after Hurricane Katrina.
Shortly after Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast, KaBOOM! launched Operation Playground with a mission of building 100 playgrounds in the region.
Today, Operation REACH and The Chrysler Foundation are joining with KaBOOM! to build a newly designed playground at The Knowledge Garden Child Development Center at 2115 Carondelet St., which serves hundreds of children.