I love what I do at KaBOOM!. I have the esteemed privilege of cultivating relationships with amazing partners who are committed to increasing the quality of life for all kids through play. Our partners in Baltimore, even in the midst of current and historical adversity, exemplify precisely why and where we do what we do. Our Baltimore Playmakers incorporate play and kid-friendly community spaces as a part of their commitment to building healthy communities that raise healthy, thriving kids. In this moment, it is important to recognize the battles our partners are fighting and champion their success. #OneBaltimore
Despite school closings, Playmaker and Principal Joe Manko opened rec center doors and hosted a play day. Images Courtesy of Baltimore Playmaker Joe Manko, Principal at Liberty #64
Dear Playmakers, Parents, Caregivers, Community Leaders,
We here at KaBOOM! have been paying close attention to Baltimore, not only to the events in the past 24 hours or week, but throughout our years of community-building in the city. We have reached out to our partners throughout the Baltimore community over the last couple of days and are inspired by their efforts to put kids first. Thank you to Baltimore City Parks & Recreation, Druid Heights CDC and Jubilee Arts Baltimore for pulling in and hosting play days – a solid response for young kids who are probably struggling with what is happening. Your ability to quickly react to the needs of kids and families is awesome – they are hosting clean-ups and community forums, opening emergency meal sites, providing counseling, just to call out a few.
As we strive to increase access to play opportunities for all kids, particularly those living in poverty, we press for the issue of equity to be taken into account in decisions and investments shaping the future of neighborhoods and cities. In the midst of crisis, whether it be a natural disaster or social turmoil, from a child's viewpoint, the situation is the same; a force much bigger than they are able to comprehend has altered their reality. As Playmakers work to restore some sense of normalcy in the short-term, as well as to bring a new reality for Baltimore in the coming weeks, months and beyond, we hope to be a thought partner in considering how community design and supportive services engage kids, and yes, give them the opportunity to play – a critical outlet to help mitigate stress, cope with emotional trauma and build resilience.
We have long seen play and the work we do as a social justice issue. Over the years we have built more than 25 playgrounds in Baltimore and continue to work with key partners, like you, to address inequity in access to and investment in play opportunities. We are committed to helping to prevent the negative consequences on kids experiencing prolonged adversity. Because of Playmakers in Baltimore, there are two important factors in place for young kids: play and caring adults. Please know that as a committed partner in improving the lives of all kids, we value the continued effort and impact of our Baltimore Playmakers in the face of ongoing challenges. Their leadership inspires.
We are staying in contact with our Baltimore partners to keep abreast of developments in the community, and we will provide updates as we think through how we can best be supportive. There is no one more vested in the future of our cities and neighborhoods than our kids, and we applaud all that consider them in their work.
Aisha Alexander, Director, Impact Innovation
Kids dream of opportunities in their city. Image Courtesy of Baltimore Playmaker Joe Manko, Principal at Liberty #64