On February 12th, 2011 KaBOOM!, the Police Athletic League of West Palm Beach and PNC Foundation turned the worst dumping site in West Palm Beach into a beautiful new playground. Now people pick up trash every day. They have a sense of ownership to the playground and do not want to see it trashed. It is an incredibly positive change in the community.
Play it forward to support communities across the country who make KaBOOM! playgrounds their own.
"In 2002 I was a new mom with an active 1-year old son. One of my friends recommended a brand new playground in town. But, when I got there, everything was wrong. The playground was for older kids, the equipment reached much too high off the ground for my little guy. We had to go back home – not something easy to explain to a toddler.
That’s the moment my play spark ignited – why wasn’t there a place where moms like me could rate and map playgrounds? One place that had pictures, information about restrooms, type of equipment, parking, shade, age-appropriateness, and the million others things that moms need to think about before heading to a park?
I ran with it. I started out with a column in my MOMS Club newsletter and eventually coined the term 'playground blogger.' In November of 2008, with my blog getting just 30 visitors a month, I discovered KaBOOM! and the Map of Play. The KaBOOM! concept was EXACTLY what I envisioned all those years before – and it was already operating on a national scale!
Since then I’ve worked with KaBOOM! as a local expert to improve and expand the map, make it more mom-friendly and easier to use. Working together, just 3 years later, my blog now reaches 14,000 people a month during the summer. Orange County is a metropolis of over 3 million people, but I've built a community of park lovers.
I'm known in different circles as 'Play Mom' or 'The Park Lady' or, my favorite, 'The Queen of Play.' I solve riddles about where to find the tallest slides, playgrounds without sand, baby swings by the beach, and even where to take a kid who is fanatical about tarantulas and bats. Want to go to a park and hit a farmers market without having to buckle your twins into two car seats twice? I’ve got that covered, too.
Through KaBOOM!, I hope I'm inspiring communities and future playground bloggers nationwide, to share places to play because I believe PLAY is not optional."
– Michele Whiteaker, FunOrangeCountyParks.com
Michele has inspired her community to get out and play, she inspires us to build a nationwide movement to do the same thing.
Play it forward to build the Map of Play to help moms like Michele across the country find great places to play.
"I could build a playground every day! When you build a KaBOOM! playground, you feel like part of the community, you meet interesting people and you all come together for a great cause.
At my last build, I had the opportunity to work with volunteers from a senior center. They were so excited to be there, and sometimes it’s just about feeling needed. Even though they were helping out the kids, KaBOOM! was really helping them feel needed again.
The positive impact was twofold and multigenerational, changing the lives of the volunteers and the children who would soon be playing on the playground they built."
– Gina Lazo, Coral Gables, FL
Gina has built 2 playgrounds with KaBOOM!, so far, and knows how important it is to get kids outside playing and away from computers and video games.
Play it forward with a donation today so we can keep engaging great community volunteers like Gina.
“Playgrounds are places where children can be children. Where imaginations run wild and first friendships are formed. It is where a child may resolve his first conflict or put his negotiating skills to the test in his first debate.
Playgrounds are places where leaders are formed, where laughter rules the castle and under-dogs learn to fly using swings. Confidence is built by tackling the monkey bars or climbing to the top of the rock wall. Play lays the foundation to becoming a confident, self reliant, productive, and happy adult.”
– Shannon Schafer, Safety Harbor, FL
Play it forward with a donation today if you believe in the importance of play.
“I will be using much of the KaBOOM! webinar information as I revisit my playground committees. As you are well aware, school systems are struggling with financing which has direct consequences on staffing. Some of my key playground committee members at Edison Park Elementary are in job placement limbo, we need to wait to see where the school district places them, as much as we want them back.
Thanks to the webinar and website information, I can start structuring the roles/responsibilities of various committees and reorganize as necessary in the beginning of the school year. We had many teachers and parents volunteer at our last end of the year faculty gathering and plan to start up again immediately at our first PTA/PTSA meeting and opening of schools faculty meetings.
I understand the concept of vague information in times of great uncertainty. I appreciate the reinforcing encouragement you have been able to share. Hopefully it won't take 8 months to get our financing together, but if so, we will keep our playground mission alive and kicking for the long haul.”
– Jackie House, Miami, FL
Play it forward with a donation to help Jackie and other hopeful playground builder dream’s alive.
This week, we are proud to honor 151 cities and towns across the country that make play a priority and use innovative programs to get children active, playing, and healthy. Playful City USA, a national recognition program spanning 38 states and one territory, asks honorees to develop unique local action plans to increase access to play in their communities.
In the fifth year of the annual program, 19 Playful City USA communities received recognition for the fifth consecutive year, 24 earned honors for the fourth time, 29 for the third time, and 30 for the second time, while 49 claimed their first Playful City USA designation.
Towns and cities across the country are showing off their Playful City USA pride. Is your hometown celebrating its Playful City USA honor? Send us photos and we'll feature them in a future blog post!
Riverside, Calif. (left) and Dothan, Ala. (right)
York, Pa. (left) and Miami Lakes, Fla. (right)
Creedmoor, N.C. (left) and Fishers, Ind. (right)
Is your city playful? See our full list here.
Before they compete in the 2010 Pro Bowl Jan. 31, some of the NFL’s biggest stars are coming together together as one team today to build a playground with KaBOOM! as part of the largest community program in the league’s history. Following morning practices Pro Bowl players, coaches and Bank of America community volunteers will spend the afternoon working to improve the South Florida community as part of the first-ever "NFL PLAY 60 Community Blitz" in celebration of the Pro Bowl.
The playground build will take place at RISE Academy School of Science and Technology, a free public charter elementary school in Broward County. Players will be joined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, as well as ESPN commentators Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski and Mike Tirico and will work with KaBOOM!, RISE students, Bank of America associates and other community volunteers to construct a customized playground at the school, which is currently without a gym or play area.
Simultaneously, other players and Bank of America associates will be working on two other service projects in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. All the projects are each designed to help local children stay healthy and active as part of NFL PLAY 60, the league’s campaign to fight childhood obesity. Bank of America also will donate $100,000 to PLAY 60 non-profit community partners as part of the program.
You can learn more information about the Blitz here and we'll be live-tweeting the event throughout the day. Then you can see all the great players who helped build the playground in action when the Pro Bowl is played on Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN!
UPDATE: Photos from the build are now available on the NFL website.