We say, "It starts with a playground," and Eureka, Calif. resident Ruth Robertson (pictured at right) is here to attest that a playground is indeed only the beginning. Ruth first got involved with KaBOOM! in 2008 when she found out that we were helping to build a playground in the park across her street. Here, in Ruth's words, is what happened next:
“When our councilmember got with KaBOOM!, he invited the community out to a meeting about it. I attended with my son, and that’s the first time in my life when I was actually included in something in my community.
I came out to the Design Day, joined the planning committee. I was like, 'What do you need?' I was there. On Build Day, I was the concrete team Build Captain—I volunteered for that because no one else would. That build changed my life—I got involved in my community.
I went on to volunteering... political campaigning in some of the roughest areas of Eureka. I knocked on doors in these really rough parts of town, but I saw all aspects of life, I saw poverty, I saw single parents not having a place to go to play... for them to then come to Hammond Park—the second most used park in Eureka—that’s like 15 blocks away, but they walk it!
Two years later I organized Spruce Up Hammond Park Day—man, the city resisted and resisted and then I finally we just did it, had a 100 volunteers show up, and we re-painted, planted trees, it was great... just great! To see people walk by, stop and volunteer. Other play opportunities often charge for recreation but this place was free and for all of us.
When you see kids coming from broken homes, they don’t have a choice… they can’t be instrumental in change but when you see that people care enough to say, ‘We wanna make a difference,’ when you give them a safe place to play, it speaks volumes. It tells them you can do whatever you want.”
Volunteers are hard at work on 'Spruce Up Hammond Park Day.'
Our headquarters in DC has moved to bigger, brighter playground!
You may not believe it from the pictures, but we actually work really hard around here. Because of course, work is most productive when it incorporates lots of play.
This exclusive photo tour of our new space is sure to make you jealous:
Photos by talented Boomers Frank Zhu and Lindsay Adeyiga.
KaBOOM! was honored to join First Lady Michelle Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and local elected officials from across the country in Philadelphia to announce public and private sector commitments to support the goals of Let’s Move!, the First Lady’s initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.
In addition to committing to provide free materials, technical assistance and guidance for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties elected officials to build or expand public playgrounds, the First Lady cut the ribbon of a new Imagination Playground™ in a Box at the event. The set was donated to the Lenfest Center by Let’s Play and KaBOOM!.
"Many of the nation’s children don’t live within walking distance of a park or recreation center,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Today, KaBOOM! is giving Philadelphia a head start on solving that problem by donating a playground. But it’s not just any playground. It’s the Imagination Playground™ in a Box that you can see just over here to my right. The moveable parts come in a box, and kids can assemble them in any setting – indoors or outdoors – to create a safe place to play. These playspaces make an immediate impact in a neighborhood."
“I want to echo the thank-you’s for our outstanding partners in this new coalition,” said Obama. “And of course, KaBOOM for supporting new playgrounds -- like the one that we're going to unveil here today -- where kids can get around and get the exercise they need to stay healthy.”
Just prior to the event a new website was launched to help elected officials meet their goals of empowering kids to eat healthy and stay active, which includes detailed information on the importance of mapping playspaces and the tools to do it, including through the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program.
The goal of Let’s Move and the vision of KaBOOM! (a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America) intersect on the playground as children who live within a half mile of a playground are five times more likely to be physically fit and engage in active, healthy play.
Photos via Seth Nenstiel (cc).
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.