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Somewhere along the way, Mom Sarah Hirsch realized that kids’ birthday parties had become less about kids playing musical chairs and more about getting lots of elaborate presents.

When her son Harry turned one, he ended up opening one present every day, just so it wouldn’t overwhelm him. “We were amazed that he got so much stuff,” Sarah says. “It was so generous of our friends and family but also a little embarrassing to receive so many gifts for a one-year-old who was too little to care about presents.” 

During the following year, Sarah realized just how much her son was learning by playing at the area playgrounds. He was growing stronger, his language improved, and he was more aware of the world around him. When it came time to plan his second birthday, she had a new idea.

“I wanted to share our good fortune with others and thought, ‘Instead of having people bring a present, why not ask them to give a donation?’”

She chose KaBOOM! because, as she says, “Everything Harry learns comes from play. What better organization to ask people to donate to than one that revolves all around the importance of play and bringing play to kids? I thought it was a perfect fit for us.”

Sure, Harry still received presents, but Sarah gave guests an option to make a charitable contribution, which resulted in more than $500 donated in Harry’s name.

As the year continued and Harry was invited to other kids’ parties, Sarah continued the charitable trend. Her favorite gift is a $15 contribution to KaBOOM! and a copy of the KaBOOM! outdoor game guide, Go Out and Play!“People are really flattered that we made a donation in their child’s name,” Sarah says.

Harry recently turned three, and Sarah knew how she was going to make his Sesame Street party even more special. “It was a no-brainer that we would do a KaBOOM! party again. Last year was really just the beginning of something that has become a cause in our family. We’re passionate about the importance of play and KaBOOM! is near and dear to our hearts.”

Donations for Harry’s birthday totaled more than $600 this year. Sarah has gotten nothing but compliments from other parents for how she’s “cutting down on the excess” that comes with birthday parties. “I think as Harry begins to understand more about the world, he’ll be really proud of this, too.”


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:

  • Build playgrounds in disadvantaged communities.
  • Create an interactive map so they can identify cities where the Play Deficit is most rampant – and concentrate their efforts there.
  • Ensure that at least one model playful city exists in each and every state. Their Playful City USA program provides grants to municipalities that offer innovative programs to get children active, playing, and healthy.

Investing in children is investing in all our futures. Please help and let them play everyday.
 


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!:

  • Build playgrounds in disadvantaged communities.
     
  • Create an interactive map so our research experts can identify areas where the Play Deficit is most rampant -- and concentrate our efforts there.
     
  • Open school and private playgrounds to local communities after hours and on weekends.

Play is fun. But its loss is no laughing matter. Please help and let them play everyday.


Four months ago, the kids at Phil Campbell Elementary School in northern Alabama had their lives turned upside down—literally. It was on a Wednesday, at 10:45 a.m., that the first storm warnings sounded. The school was quickly evacuated before the mid-afternoon tornadoes hit, but one of its teachers and two of its students would never return.

They were three of the 28 people who died in this tight-knit, rural community of 1,000. The tornadoes also took away the school’s playground, which was the only playground in town. After such a tragedy, a playground was exactly what these children needed to heal and recover.

Like most folks in Phil Campbell, lifelong resident Kim Sherrill grew up climbing on monkey bars, sliding, swinging and creating imaginary worlds with her friends. Kim understands the healing power of play, and she is determined to do whatever she can to replace that playground. That’s why she reached out to us.

Kim says, "They need a place to run and play and be kids again, away from the rubble and pain. Some of these children lost family members—one even lost his leg. We need a playground that is safe and fun; for a child, play is therapeutic and necessary."

  
Help us fill the empty field at Phil Campbell Elementary School with playing children by chipping in for Imagination Playground™ blocks.

We hope to give the kids in Phil Campbell an Imagination Playground™TM, a revolutionary new play system that encourages unstructured, creative play. Engaging a child’s body and mind simultaneously, Imagination Playground™ consists of large blue foam blocks, similar to life-size tinker toys. These blocks let children create fairy houses, rocket ships, castles, or anything else that they imagine.

Join us in giving the kids in Phil Campbell not just a place to play, but an outlet to heal and to work through their tangled emotions in a safe and comforting environment. We can’t rebuild roofs, restore livelihoods or bring back lost loved ones, but we can bring play back to the children of Phil Campbell, Alabama. 

Let’s get started! Make your contribution today.