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).
We were touched to see over 400 people send KaBOOM! 15th birthday wishes via our online card! We brought a 171-page (!) printed copy to our 2000th playground build on Wednesday, June 15 so that the First Lady herself could add her signature and birthday message.
If you haven't signed our card yet, it's not too late! Click here to send your birthday wishes.
KaBOOM! is also happy to accept birthday gifts, which will be sure to put a smile on a child's face. Each gift will help us build our next 2,000 playgrounds so that we can get one step closer to our vision of a playground within walking distance of every child.
Click here to send your gift.
Join the First Lady and our staff in wishing KaBOOM! a very Happy Birthday!
As early as 5:30 this morning, purple-shirted volunteers could be seen congregating at Imagine Southeast Public Charter School in Washington, DC to build our 2000th playground and celebrate our 15th birthday. Imagine Southeast, a tuition-free public charter school, has had no playground equipment at all for its 480 students—but that was all about the change.
After a week of extreme heat, we were relieved to find the sun shining not quite-so-fiercely, as hours of mulch-shoveling, concrete-mixing, slide-hoisting, and other physically demanding tasks lay ahead of us. The day officially kicked off with some invigorating warm-up exercises around 8:30 a.m. Among those in attendance were 150 parents and staff from Imagine Southeast, over 85 Boomers (KaBOOM! staff), and AmeriCorps volunteers. We wasted no time getting to work: There were rock walls to assemble; gardens to plant; picnic tables to build; and murals to paint.
As afternoon approached, some semblance of a playground was starting to emerge and the mulch pile looked quite a bit less daunting. Still, we knew we could use some extra hands, and luckily, help was on the way. Joining us were some very special volunteers from the White House – members of Congress, who were participating in the 2011 Congressional Day of Service Event; the Honorable Arne Duncan (below left); and First Lady Michelle Obama!
Said the First Lady, "You all make sure you help take care of this playground. You make sure that kids get over here and play. We want you all moving." Mrs. Obama is not a playground-building novice -- in June 2009, she joined California First Lady Maria Shriver at Bret Harte Elementary School in San Francisco to transform the school’s vacant play lot into an intergenerational playground and garden.
But this time, Mrs. Obama wanted to try her hand at something new. "I’m going to mix concrete!" she announced. "It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to mix concrete." We quickly put the First Lady, the Honorable Duncan, and our Congress members to work, and in just over an hour, the finished playground sparkled under the afternoon sun.
As Mrs. Obama prepared to cut the ribbon (above right, with our CEO and Founder Darell Hammond), we hummed “Happy Birthday” to KaBOOM! through hundreds of purple and orange kazoos to close out a thoroughly exhausting, thoroughly rewarding day.
Our 2,000th build was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with the participation of our National Partners Dr Pepper Snapple, Foresters, Kraft Foods Foundation, JetBlue, and MetLife Foundation. It represents the collective effort of not just the hundreds of volunteers who were present, but also the one million volunteers who over the past 15 years have contributed their time and sweat to give 5,501,334 children a great place to play.
All photos by Chris Sopher, courtesy of the Knight Foundation.