Just after sunrise on June 23rd, on a vacant lot in the south side of Chicago, 250 corporate and community volunteers gathered to help us raise slides and bolt in climbers on the 100th KaBOOM! Playground in the City!
The project – sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois -- celebrated this amazing milestone project and the momentum that is building behind the goal of creating great places to play within walking distance of every kid in Chicago.
Mayor Emanuel has just unveiled a plan to pump $290 million into more than 800 parks and recreation facilities during the next five years. Chicago Public Schools made a groundbreaking decision to add 20 minutes to the school day to bring back recess for all children this Fall. And – importantly -- there is an unprecedented level of citizen action and corporate investment growing behind the movement sparked by KaBOOM! to make Chicago a playful city.
More than 30 companies have fueled our work to date in Chicago, notably Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Kraft Foods Foundation, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Discover Financial Services, CNA Foundation, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Reedy Industries, Radio Flyer, Magnetar Capital, Chicago White Sox Charities, William Blair & Company, Motorola Solutions and others.
Check out our Chicago 100! Facebook album, where we reminisce about some of our most memorable Chicago builds.
20,000 volunteers from every neighborhood in our city have pitched in to help us build our first 100 playgrounds!
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois President Karen Atwood and energetic Blue Corps volunteers helped us lead the project.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois was “lit up” about the project, spotlighting it over Millenium Park and Lake Shore Drive!
“There’s nothing better than running around on a playground and in the grass and having a good time. The value of a playground in your community is immeasurable.”
So says a volunteer at a recent playground build made possible by KaBOOM! National Partner Foresters. It’s hard to argue against the value of a playground. “Speaking from experience,” says another volunteer, “I grew up where there wasn’t one… I’m happy that I can help a kid say, 'I was able to play at a playground.'”
In 2012, Foresters will build 20 playgrounds and support 26 DIY playground improvement projects, providing children and their families with a safe place to spend quality time together and have fun. Three builds in Atlanta, Houston, and Los Angeles (pictured) have already been completed.
In addition to building playgrounds with KaBOOM!, Foresters is a member of the Leadership Circle within the KaBOOM! National Partner Program. This means Foresters provides long-term guidance and support for KaBOOM! by investing in programs that have a lasting impact on the well-being of families.
See more on the impact of a Foresters Playground Build:
Learn about how you can impact your community with Foresters at MyForesters.com.
We know KaBOOM! helps communities build playgrounds in a matter of weeks, but a new study proves what we have seen anecdotally from more than 2,100 playground builds since our founding in 1996: that our impact goes beyond a healthy playspace for kids.
A report by Knight Foundation finds that KaBOOM! projects help volunteers and local organizations cultivate the skills, confidence and inspiration they need to get more involved in their communities. KaBOOM!: Playgrounds that Build Communities provides lessons for groups seeking to engage volunteers in community change efforts. Key to the success is our approach. KaBOOM! offers a highly structured playbook that yields a quick, achievable win motivating people to become more engaged in improving neighborhoods.
This great infographic from Knight Foundation illustrates how our playgrounds spark community change:
We at KaBOOM! play every day, but usually not at the White House.
On Monday, April 9, we participated in the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll. We teamed up with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition at the 'Eggtivity Zone,' which got kids moving on the South Lawn of the White House:
First Daughter Sasha Obama enjoyed making her way through the obstacle course we made with an Imagination Playground:
Kids were naturally curious about the Imagination Playground, made of loose parts and designed to spark creativity:
Children came out in their Sunday best for the occasion. But that didn’t stop them from playing hard and having fun!
First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by the Eggtivity Zone to cheer on the kids!
The First Family came out to play, with the Easter Bunny in tow. Approximately 35,000 people attended the annual event throughout the day:
by Paula Jenkins
I’ve been a teacher for 21 years. And through my work, I’ve seen the Play Deficit first hand.
Since I began teaching, the number of hours kids spend outside playing has plummeted. Kids are spending more and more time behind TV and computer screens. And equipment like swings are being pulled from school playgrounds because they are considered "too dangerous."
We can’t let the Play Deficit hurt our children. We must let them play.
Play is crucial to healthy social, emotional, and cognitive development. Every day, I see kids learning important lessons on the playground. And I’m sure you can understand how grateful I am when they return to class calm and focused after running around with their friends.
Please join me and other educators and help KaBOOM! fight the Play Deficit. Be a part of their Spring Donor Drive and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by the A. L. Mailman Foundation.
Right now, their goal is 365 donors to help KaBOOM! support a 50-state attack on the Play Deficit by helping:
Investing in children is investing in all our futures. Please help and let them play everyday.
Currently only one in five children lives within walking distance of a playground -- and you can help us change that. Are you ready to do some good? Join our national effort to map and rate every playground in America, and help us activate 200,000 people to do the same.
How? It's easy:
by Danielle Marshall, Director of Community Engagement
Our enemy isn’t a person. It doesn’t have a voice. It doesn’t jump out of the shadows.
But it’s an enemy nonetheless. It’s the Play Deficit. And it’s a real threat to our children.
Right now, an overwhelming majority of kids don’t have a safe place to play within walking distance of their home. Recess at school is on the chopping block across the country. And the public playspaces that do exist are often in disrepair.
We can’t let the Play Deficit hurt our children. We must let them play.
Children need play to grow into healthy adults, much as they need food, shelter, and love. Without play, kids fail to develop necessary skills like problem–solving, creativity, and perseverance.
Will you help KaBOOM! fight the Play Deficit? Be a part of our Spring Donor Drive and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by the A. L. Mailman Foundation.
Our goal is 365 donors to help support our 50-state assault on the Play Deficit. You can help KaBOOM!:
Play is fun. But its loss is no laughing matter. Please help and let them play everyday.
As a Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011, KaBOOM! Founder and CEO Darell Hammond has the opportunity to participate in the World Economic Forum next week in Davos, Switzerland. It's a chance to meet business and thought leaders, but also to advocate for something that sparks true entrepreneurial thinking: unstructured play.
Hammond explains this further in a new piece for the Huffington Post:
Unstructured play gives kids the space they need to tinker and take risks -- both vital for the budding entrepreneur. Yet, too frequently these opportunities are being taken away from our kids in favor of more structured activities or time in front of a computer screen. The lack of free, child-directed play time for our kids today will have dire consequences for these future leaders, making them less prepared to solve complex challenges and problems. That is one reason why KaBOOM! has embraced the concept of the Imagination Playground™ which uses loose parts and encourages kids to use their imaginations and be creative.
You can read the full post here: "Play Today, Lead Tomorrow"
On March 4th, 2011 KaBOOM!, KIPP Legacy Prep School and the Walt Disney Company built a great new place to play in Houston. One of the community project leaders, Ms. Berry, grew up in the community and says that things like this just don't happen in this neighborhood. It means a lot for the neighbors to see something so positive.
Play it forward with a donation today if you believe all communities deserve a great place for their kids to play.
On February 12th, 2011 KaBOOM!, the Police Athletic League of West Palm Beach and PNC Foundation turned the worst dumping site in West Palm Beach into a beautiful new playground. Now people pick up trash every day. They have a sense of ownership to the playground and do not want to see it trashed. It is an incredibly positive change in the community.
Play it forward to support communities across the country who make KaBOOM! playgrounds their own.