KaBOOM! News • page 17

In the summer of 2007, KaBOOM! tasked Northwestern University's ABCD Institute to undertake a one-year study to measure the impact our KaBOOM!-led builds have on communities.

The results are in, and findings indicate that when implemented appropriately, the KaBOOM! Community-Build process creates a lasting impact on the communities it partners with, both in terms of building capacity, enhancing community pride and cultivating KaBOOM!-leadership, as well as enhancing the play experience of neighborhood children.

Some of the findings include:

  • Ninety-four percent of KABOOM!-led respondents, and 90 percent of Do-It-Yourself respondents believe that their playground project helped strengthen relationships among neighborhood residents and among community partners.
  • Over half of all KABOOM!-led and Do-It-Yourself groups reported that their project expanded their capacity to address other community issues. Nearly 100 percent of all groups believe that their KaBOOM! playground positively impacted the quality and quantity of children's play.

Download the executive summary (PDF, approx. 32Kb)

Download the presentation (PDF, approx. 700Kb)

By Mark C. White

Can the KaBOOM! community-build model be used around the globe to bring play opportunities to all children? A small group of Playmakers and I put the theory to the test in Poland.

Through the gracious generosity of KOMPAN, BigToys and extensive fundraising, we were able to not only complete one playground project, but two: one at a rural Polish orphanage (Dom Dziecka) and another at an elementary school in the city of Poznan. Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer of Peaceful Playgrounds donated a complete set of recess hard surface play area stencils and a paint-striping machine, and I bought all the tools to bring with us with a $500 Home Depot gift card awarded to me last fall by KaBOOM!.

Day one. Upon arrival at Dom Dziecka "Droga" located in the small village of Goscieszyn Poland, we found two crates from KOMPAN delivered the previous week. After unloading and storing our luggage, we went immediately to work.

Day two. The first full day of the build went very quickly. The team divided informally into three separate groups to assemble the three pieces of equipment. The team dug all the holes except for those for the spring-loaded seesaw. We wanted to give the kids the opportunity to dig the holes and mix in the concrete for this piece of equipment; therefore ensuring ownership as well as a memorable experience.

Day three. The safety surfacing material was delivered. The kids were starting to arrive back from school, so we had an added resource of labor to move the safety surfacing and filled both "safe use zone" areas.

Day four. We headed for our next build site: King David School. The school rents a portion of a public middle school. The objective of this build was to promote trust and cooperation amongst the administration, the surrounding "block housing" neighborhood and the parents of the students who attend King David School. My Polish counterpart, Przemek, had every detail of the build process planned out on a spreadsheet for each day of the project. We had parent volunteers both days to help complete the project. It was great to see Poles and Americans working side by side. No language translation was necessary. The smiles and teamwork said it all! We were there for a common purpose….to build a playground for a school that had none.

Day five. The next morning we had an assembly with the children and staff of the school: the official celebration and grand opening of the new playground. The children presented us with a booklet they had made with playground artwork, including many thank you's. I presented KaBOOM! "I Am Play" Playmaker t-shirts to the principal and Przemek, to great cheers and applause from the children and staff.

Mark C. White, founder of Playgrounds of Peace, is the environmental/risk and safety manager for the Lee's Summit R-7 School District. He's been a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (NPSI) for eight years, is S.A.F.E. certified, and has served as a National Advisory Board member for the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS).

July 25, 2008 KaBOOM!

Jamison focuses on hometown

Shreveport native is one of NBA's most giving
By Jason Pugh
Shreveport Times
July 23, 2008

Watch a photo slideshow of Antawn Jamison at the Design Day

Antawn Jamison's basketball resume shows plenty of team and individual success.

Ditto for his community service resume, something that will grow with respect to Shreveport in the next month.

Jamison, a Shreveport native and two-time NBA All-Star, was in Bossier City on Tuesday to announce the building of a KaBOOM playground on St. Charles Street in the Barksdale Annex neighborhood.

"I was in the All-Star Game this past year and we did a lot for the community of New Orleans," Jamison said. "The most important thing for me is giving back to kids. KaBOOM does a lot for the community and kids. I recall as a kid, just having the opportunity to have that one place where I could go and be a kid — just enjoy myself and play. I still have those memories. There's a lot of kids in dire need of that opportunity." [More]

June 28 & 29, 11 am – 5 pm

Imaginative Foam Blocks of a Variety of Shapes and Sizes, Fabric, Tarps and Cardboard Nurture Fun, Imaginative Play

Queens, N.Y. – June 17, 2008 - Children of all ages are invited to play with hundreds of foam building blocks from Imagination Playground™, which nurtures creative play and is being planned for downtown New York City, when the Hall in the Anthony Viscusi Gallery at the New York Hall of Science is transformed into a giant playground for kids of all ages on June 28 and 29th between 11am and 5pm.  This event will feature over 265 blue foam blocks of different weights and sizes, which children will be able to build structures and sculptures, tear them down, and then start all over again.  They will also be able to integrate loose parts and found objects, including fabrics, tarps and reused cardboard, into the fun. 
The foam blocks, designed by the Rockwell Group, are part of the architecture and design firm’s Imagination Playground™ which is being built in Burling Slip near South Street Seaport, as well as in an abbreviated form in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  There are others being planned for the remaining boroughs of New York, and throughout the country. Rockwell Group first developed the design and concept for Imagination Playground™, which breaks ground this summer, to nurture creative play through a combination of loose parts, water and sand, creating an infinite number of creative play ideas and ensuring that no two visits to the play ground are ever the same. This type of design architecture allows for transformative, socio-cooperative and imaginative constructive play, which can evolve as children mature.

In partnership with KaBOOM!, the foremost national not for profit dedicated to bringing play back into the lives of children, Rockwell Group will also make their principles of unstructured free play available to any community around the country with Imagination Playground™ in a BOX.  This semi-mobile kit of parts, featuring an array of loose parts, can adapt to many different site conditions such as parks, child care environments and school settings. When Imagination Playground™ in a BOX opens, it will immediately activate the environment around it, creating a playground configured by children’s play, and evolving as the community of children changes throughout the day. The first Imagination Playground™ in a BOX will be in Brownsville, Brooklyn, July 9th through Labor Day, but children will have a preview of the loose parts, including the foam building blocks that make up the kit at the New York Hall of Science!

The Imagination Playground™ Play Event will be at the Hall of Science on Saturday and Sunday, June 28 and 29, from 11 am – 5 pm in the Anthony Viscusi Gallery. The event is free with general Hall admission.

Founded over 20 years ago by David Rockwell, Rockwell Group is an award winning, cross-disciplinary 250-person architecture and design practice based in New York. Rockwell Group specializes in hospitality, culture, theater and film design.  Commissions include the Elinor Bunin Film Center at Lincoln Center; a series of public school libraries for the Robin Hood Foundation’s Library Initiative, the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore; interior work and brand conceptualization of the JetBlue Airways terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport; Chambers hotel and Town restaurant (New York); W New York and W Union Square; the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards ceremony (Los Angeles); the Broadway musicals “Hairspray,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” and “Legally Blonde”; the World Trade Center Viewing Platform; and numerous restaurants around the world including Nobu Fifty Seven, Country, Bar American; Nobu (Hong Kong, Dallas, Dubai), Xen in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills, and Gordon Ramsay’s Maze (London).  His monograph, Pleasure: The Architecture and Design of Rockwell Group, was published by Universe, a division of Rizzoli Books in 2002.  Spectacle, a book with Bruce Mau, was published by Phaidon Press in October 2006.

The New York Hall of Science is New York City’s hands-on science and technology center. More than 400 interactive exhibits explore the wonder and excitement of biology, chemistry and physics. Admission is $11 for adults and $8 for children (ages 2-17), college students with valid ID, and seniors (62+). For hours, directions, and other information, please visit www.nyscience.org or call 718.699.0005.

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 1,400 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 the Playmaker Network – a national network of individual advocates for play.  Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago, Atlanta and San Mateo, Calif.   www.kaboom.org.


The 100th build from Operation Playground was featured on "Good Morning America" June 17, 2008!

Watch the segment here.

More than 500 volunteers converged on Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park in Bay St. Louis on June 14 to help KaBOOM! and our partners complete the 100th Operation Playground project in the Gulf Coast. In December 2005, KaBOOM! committed to build 100 playgrounds in the region after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast, starting with the first in Bay St. Louis. It was only fitting that the 100th playground was built in the town where it all began.

The 100th build was a true community celebration. Not even a midday shower could dampen the enthusiasm of the volunteers from the local community, Fannie Mae, AmeriCorps*NCCC, Gulf Coast Recovery Corps, Keesler Air Force base, and others, many of whom had participated in several previous Operation Playground projects. In just under six hours, the volunteers completed two playground structures, refurbished two basketball courts, and built an extensive new ‘front porch' entrance to the park. They also painted several murals commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, the community and Operation Playground. As a finishing touch, local children created a ‘Heroes Walk' around the park honoring the men and women of the Civil Rights movement.

The project was made possible by a partnership between KaBOOM!, the Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Fannie Mae, Foundation for the Mid South, the City of Bay St. Louis, Hancock Housing Resource Center and Powerhouse of Deliverance Church. At 2:30, representatives from each of the organizations, along with the volunteers and past Operation Playground Community Partners, gathered to cut a very special ribbon made up of 100 painted panels representing each of the 100 Operation Playground projects.

Because of Operation Playground, more than 22,000 volunteers have donated their time to build playgrounds for nearly 50,000 children from Houston to Mobile. In all, through Operation Playground, $8.2 million has been invested to build great new places to play in the Gulf Coast by Jim and Donna Barksdale, The Home Depot, Playworld Systems, Fannie Mae, Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, NBA Cares, DJR Foundation, AmeriCares, ESPN, ING Direct and other outstanding partners.

KaBOOM! will continue to build in the region and already has several projects scheduled through December. The 101st and 102nd Operation Playground projects will take place in New Orleans and Biloxi on Saturday, June 28.

American Institute for Public Service
100 West 10th Street, Suite 215
Wilmington, DE 19801-1665

Jonathan Peters
National Director
(302) 295-0532


Darell Hammond to Receive 2008 National Jefferson Award

WASHINGTON D.C., - Darell Hammond will receive the Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 7 p.m. in East Hall, Union Station.  Selected by the Jefferson Awards’ prestigious board of selectors, Darell was chosen for a 2008 Jefferson Award for his advocacy on issues concerning children and community redevelopment.

Darell grew up with seven brothers and sisters at Mooseheart, a group home outside of Chicago.  At Mooseheart, Darell witnessed first hand the amazing contribution volunteers could make in the life of a child and decided to dedicate himself to volunteer service.

In August 1995, shortly after moving to Washington, D.C., 24-year-old Darell Hammond read a story in the Washington Post about two local children who suffocated in an abandoned car because they didn’t have anywhere else to play. Darell, who had previously helped build several playgrounds for other organizations, realized this tragedy could have been prevented and started KaBOOM!, a national non-profit that empowers communities to build playgrounds.  KaBOOM! organizes communities and provides them with an achievable win by leading them in building a playground in one day using all-volunteer labor.  Once communities have completed a KaBOOM!-led playground build, they’re able to take the knowledge they’ve gained from the process to take on other projects.  Since its inception in 1995, KaBOOM! has raised more than $100 million and rallied more than 241,000 volunteers to support the cause of play.

Today, KaBOOM! is recognized as a leader among social entrepreneurial organizations and Darell has become a well-known spokesperson for the cause of play. KaBOOM! and Darell have won numerous awards for national service, innovation and leadership including:  Honorary Doctorate, Ripon College; Children's Mental Health Award, NARSAD; President's Volunteer Service Award; Power and Influence Top 50, non-profit Times; Washingtonian of the Year, Washingtonian magazine; 40 under 40, Crain's Chicago Business ; and the Making a Difference Award, Diet Coke.

In addition to his work with KaBOOM!, Darell serves on the Board of Directors of Independent Sector and Hands on Network and in 2003 was elected as an Ashoka Fellow for being a leader in social entrepreneurship.  


In 1972, the Jefferson Awards for Public Service were founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard to create a Nobel Prize for public and community service. The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. National award recipients are a “Who’s Who” of American history makers. Four Supreme Court Justices have been honored including Thurgood Marshall and Sandra Day O’Connor; seven Secretaries of State including Cyrus Vance and Colin Powell; three first ladies: Barbara Bush, Rosalyn Carter and Betty Ford; as well as Alan Greenspan, Bob Hope and Lance Armstrong, among over 100 others.

Through Jefferson Awards Champions, the Jefferson Awards honors outstanding employees and retirees who volunteer.  We currently work with nearly 30 organizations across America on the Champions program.   Through the Jefferson Awards Media Partners we honor grassroots unsung heroes.   Working together with 135 Media Partners in 76 DMA’s we honor these unsung heroes all across America.   Through the Jefferson Awards Youth Service Initiative we are working in America’s High Schools to double student volunteerism in America. 

KaBOOM! builds 100th playground in the Gulf
"Operation Playground" initiative provides a great place to play for 49,605 children from Houston to Mobile

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast, KaBOOM!, the national non-profit that empowers communities to build playgrounds, made a commitment to build 100 playgrounds in the areas hardest hit by the storms. On June 14th, in Bay St. Louis Miss., KaBOOM! will reach this goal.

"When KaBOOM! began Operation Playground just three months after Hurricane Katrina struck, those outside the area were incredulous, believing that playgrounds were the last thing people needed in the midst of the devastation," said Darell Hammond, CEO and Co-founder, KaBOOM! "But we knew that the Gulf Coast's youngest residents needed safe places to escape the stress of the rebuilding effort and reclaim their childhood."

On Dec. 17, 2005, more than 600 residents and other volunteers came together at Carol Vegas Park in Bay St. Louis, Miss., to build a new playground, the first new permanent structure constructed in the town since Hurricane Katrina. Some wanted to give their kids a safe place to go while they re-built their homes; some remembered the aftermath of Hurricane Camille in 1969 and said they wanted to make sure local children had a place to heal emotionally; and others came out to take action and to be a part of the rebuilding process. On that day, and 98 other days just like it, volunteers transformed an empty lot into a great place to play in just one day.

Following the first build, KaBOOM! and its partners worked with community organizations to build playgrounds in cities from Houston to Mobile. With the generous support of funders such as Jim and Donna Barksdale, The Home Depot, Playworld Systems Inc., Fannie Mae, NBA Cares, the DJR Foundation, AmeriCares, ESPN and ING DIRECT, KaBOOM! has channeled $8.2 million into the area and mobilized more than 21,399 volunteers. Thirty-nine playgrounds were built in New Orleans alone, with 37 across the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

On June 14th, KaBOOM! is returning to Bay St. Louis and will lead our 100th Operation Playground project at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park. Like all KaBOOM! projects, the process started off with a Design Day where neighborhood children gathered to draw their dream playground. For this build, their pictures included everything from a slide, to a basketball court to a Ferris wheel.

"While their parents took their ideas into consideration, the Ferris wheel didn't make the cut," said Hammond. The new playground at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park will serve 2,000 children from ages 2-12 and is in an area where 97% of the children qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

"This playground will give these neighborhood kids a great place to play everyday. We also need to use victories like our 100th build to thank our committed sponsors and to draw national attention to the ongoing needs of those living in the Gulf," said Hammond. "KaBOOM! and our sponsors will continue to build in the area for as long as there's a need. We've already scheduled our 101st and 102nd playground builds on June 28th, and we have projects scheduled through December."

The 100th and 101st playgrounds are two of seventeen playgrounds made possible by a partnership between KaBOOM! and the Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Fannie Mae, and the Foundation for the Mid South.

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 1,400 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 the Playmaker Network – 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.