Childhood obesity - KaBOOM! News

Playgrounds give kids a chance to move their bodies, but the opportunities afforded by a single playground extend beyond physical activity. Kids also get more chances to challenge themselves, exercise their imaginations, and interact with other children and families. A new study conducted by Deborah Puntenney, Ph.D. at Northwestern University, in conjunction with KaBOOM! and Health Care Service Corporation, confirms our motto: “It starts with a playground.”

By the end of 2013, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) and its Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas will have built 39 playgrounds through a partnership with KaBOOM!. The company's support for KaBOOM! is part of its Healthy Kids, Healthy Families program, a three-year initiative designed to improve the health and wellness of at least one million children through community investments.

The study, conducted in 9 cities in 2011, used a learning community model to examine how being part of the KaBOOM! playground building process affects attitudes about the health promotion impact of physical activity and play, and the potential ripple effects associated with the community building aspects of the projects.

Key Findings: Health Promotion

  • Parents and other adults involved in children’s well-being almost universally agree that play is strongly associated with better health for kids. They were aware of this before they started, and this knowledge contributed to their desire to build a playground.
  • 90% of adults believe kids in their community want to play more following the playground build.
  • 96% of adults believe kids in their community are getting more exercise following the playground build.
  • Between 83% and 94% of adults believe that the playground has increased opportunities for higher quality play, including more fun (94%), more creative and challenging play (88% each), and more prospects for skill mastery (83%).
  • The percentage of adults saying kids are “bored” when they are outdoors dropped from 71% to 25% following the playground build.
  • There was an 11% increase the number of adults who said they played outside with kids at least three times a week between the pre- and post-build surveys; among parents the increase was even higher, with a 16% increase in the number indicating they went out to play with their kids this much.

Key Findings: Community Building

  • Adult confidence in their own ability to change the community increased 29% after the playground build.
  • Neighborhood pride increased by 23%, and neighborhood trust increased by 48%.


  

  Photos from KaBOOM! and Blue Cross and Blue Shield playground builds in Tulsa, OK (upper left), Chicago, IL (upper right), Rio Rancho, NM (bottom left), and Marshall, TX (bottom right).

Here, KaBOOM! says thank you to HCSC for its commitment to bringing play to children in need:

 


We have long asserted that playgrounds and gardens go hand in hand—they both nourish communities and help keep kids healthy.

KaBOOM! was recently invited to attend a fall harvest at a very special  community garden—at the White House—with First Lady Michelle Obama, White House Chefs Sam Kass and Cris Comerford, Let’s Move Executive Director Judith Palfrey, and a few dozen local children.

If you think your community doesn't have the resources to match the White House garden, you might be surprised to learn that the first White House planting only cost $200. And the small bee hive (pictured below), which is tended to by White House carpenter Charlie Brandt, houses around 70,000 bees.

Throughout the afternoon, we discussed the importance of both good nutrition and physical activity. Palfrey asserted that one of the most important things parents can do to help solve childhood obesity is to make sure their children get to "run and jump and play."
 

  

  

  

On the way to the kitchen, we passed the White House playground, which sits adjacent to the community garden, and then got some tips on good nutrition from Chef Cris Comerford (pictured above).

Raising healthy kids isn't as difficult as parents might think. But as Let's Move and KaBOOM! both recognize, kids who grow up in "food deserts" and "play deserts" are less likely to have access to veggies and outdoor play opportunities. That's why, according to our motto, a healthy childhood "starts with a playground" -- and a community garden.