"My son's school (ATCPS) in Sacramento, Calif., received one of your playgrounds earlier this year. For the last year and a half since the school opened, (was originally a high school), my son and his school-mates only had a few basketball hoops and a soccer field to play on. He would come home and be so upset because he missed the playground he had at his old school.
He kept telling us how when ATCPS would get the new playground, he'd be able to climb to the top and be the best at the monkey bars. Well, just the other day, he came home extremely excited because he was able to make it all the way across in the bars.
I think to him, it was the best day of his life so far. All I can say is THANK YOU! for bringing joy to my son and the rest of the school. I know they are a happier bunch!"
– Theresia Mayer, Sacramento, CA
Play it forward with a donation today to help more kids like Theresia’s son learn about the joy of making it all the way across the monkey bars!
"I’ve been fortunate enough to build three KaBOOM! playgrounds with the Junior League of Pittsburgh. Each of the three days brought its own challenges and successes, but as any KaBOOM! build volunteer will tell you, it’s all worth it to see that amazing new playground up at the end of the day. And while three new playgrounds is great, at Easter dinner in 2007 my family and I realized that we could do more.
Using my knowledge from the past KaBOOM! builds along with the tools and resources on kaboom.org, my mother, my aunt and myself began planning for a new place to play in our neighborhood. When the project felt like an uphill battle, and it often did, we reminded each other that a playground is essential to the health of our neighborhood; and that our efforts would make an impact on generations of children. We all need play, regardless of our age or socioeconomic status. Play is essential for happiness and growth.
The best part of Build Day was the volunteers. Their enthusiasm, excitement and willingness to work was contagious and made for a fun, festive environment. Giving freely of their time and talents for a cause bigger than themselves shaped a sense of pride in our community and in each other.
The new playground and the community’s involvement in Build Day sparked an interest in the community to do more. We’re currently planning a Play Day, as well as continuing the fundraising efforts for life-long-sports facilities."
– Gretchen Smathers, Pittsburgh, PA
Gretchen wouldn’t stop after 1, 2, or even 3 new playgrounds. Since completing the community-built playground project in 2008 she’s gone on to build another playground with KaBOOM! and isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon.
Play it forward with a donation today to help support play advocates like Gretchen, and the rest of her family.
"Late afternoon one day, when I was just six years old, I heard a series of loud cracking noises. Suddenly, my grandmother pushed me and my sister down and threw her body on top of us. When we woke the next day, I learned that a drive by shooting happened the night before.
It was in that moment that I became aware of the reality of poverty and violence in my neighborhood. Although my father was addicted to drugs and never around and my mother struggled to raise my sister and I on clerk’s wages, I was blessed with teachers, family and community members who helped me stay focused on my dreams and efforts to go to college. It wasn't until I visited South Africa in 2001 and saw shanty towns, that I understood where poverty, privilege and power intersect and realized that no one should have to grow up the way I did, or for that matter, the way the South African kids were either.
As I grew older, I came to learn that 31 people in my family were in prison, and just 1 of us was in college - me. I went on to graduate school and decided to return to my community, Inglewood, to teach critical literacy to black male youth at Morningside High School and help them experience what I felt when I went to South Africa. At Morningside, I founded the Black Male Youth Academy where I work with students and community members to use research in order to identify social issues in our community and then find solutions.
Two years ago, they decided to tackle food justice and began an initiative called "100 Seeds of Change" where they are creating 100 urban gardens – community, school and home gardens. Our program got a big lift this March at a KaBOOM! playground build where my BMYA students led the construction of a wonderful new community garden, next to the brand new playground in Inglewood.
That day, we helped move the 20 tons of soil into over 50 garden beds that were then filled with vegetables, fruits, flowers, and plants. There was a stage and 9 benches to transform a once unsavory concrete desert into an outdoor classroom that stood in front of a custom mural. Two picnic tables turned a barren wading pool into a pleasant lunching spot. A storage box was placed near the garden beds for onsite access to tools and supplies and future plans include the building of an 'outdoor kitchen' that will allow for the community to grow, harvest, prepare, and eat in the same space as where they play and gather.
Both myself, and my students left feeling empowered at the end of the day, and I know we’ll be able to do even more now."
– Dart Scorza, Inglewood, CA
Dart was already a leader in his community, and with the help of KaBOOM! he was able to empower even more people.
Play it forward today to help us work with more leaders like Dart.
“Playgrounds are places where children can be children. Where imaginations run wild and first friendships are formed. It is where a child may resolve his first conflict or put his negotiating skills to the test in his first debate.
Playgrounds are places where leaders are formed, where laughter rules the castle and under-dogs learn to fly using swings. Confidence is built by tackling the monkey bars or climbing to the top of the rock wall. Play lays the foundation to becoming a confident, self reliant, productive, and happy adult.”
– Shannon Schafer, Safety Harbor, FL
Play it forward with a donation today if you believe in the importance of play.
“I will be using much of the KaBOOM! webinar information as I revisit my playground committees. As you are well aware, school systems are struggling with financing which has direct consequences on staffing. Some of my key playground committee members at Edison Park Elementary are in job placement limbo, we need to wait to see where the school district places them, as much as we want them back.
Thanks to the webinar and website information, I can start structuring the roles/responsibilities of various committees and reorganize as necessary in the beginning of the school year. We had many teachers and parents volunteer at our last end of the year faculty gathering and plan to start up again immediately at our first PTA/PTSA meeting and opening of schools faculty meetings.
I understand the concept of vague information in times of great uncertainty. I appreciate the reinforcing encouragement you have been able to share. Hopefully it won't take 8 months to get our financing together, but if so, we will keep our playground mission alive and kicking for the long haul.”
– Jackie House, Miami, FL
Play it forward with a donation to help Jackie and other hopeful playground builder dream’s alive.
"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.