By some measures Share Our Strength and KaBOOM! were successful US nonprofits—growing rapidly, engaging numerous partners, and improving the lives of tens of millions of children. Yet all the while, the problems we were tackling—hunger and the lack of opportunities to play—were getting worse and even accelerating in recent years as the economy took a downturn. More than 16 million children in America now live in poverty, up from 11.6 million in 2000. We have witnessed how children who play on KaBOOM! playgrounds benefit physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally, but we face the fact that one in three children is obese or overweight, and one in five suffers from a mental illness, with rates of depression higher than ever before. And the list goes on.
KaBOOM! and Share Our Strength realized that to make significant progress we had to move beyond simple solutions to complex problems, and we had to answer anew, in a much bolder way, the most critical question of all: “What does success look like?” Though it may seem counterintuitive for a non-profit sector already struggling to support, sustain, and scale up its impact—our approach calls for nonprofits to embrace a much heavier lift. We must look beyond short-term achievements that please funders, staff, and stakeholders but yield only incremental change, and instead hold ourselves accountable for the harder-to-achieve long-term outcomes that will ultimately solve social problems.
That is why KaBOOM! is committed to ensuring all children get the balance of active play they need to become healthy and successful adults. Together, we can give all kids the childhood they deserve.
“There’s nothing better than running around on a playground and in the grass and having a good time. The value of a playground in your community is immeasurable.”
So says a volunteer at a recent playground build made possible by KaBOOM! National Partner Foresters. It’s hard to argue against the value of a playground. “Speaking from experience,” says another volunteer, “I grew up where there wasn’t one… I’m happy that I can help a kid say, 'I was able to play at a playground.'”
In 2012, Foresters will build 20 playgrounds and support 26 DIY playground improvement projects, providing children and their families with a safe place to spend quality time together and have fun. Three builds in Atlanta, Houston, and Los Angeles (pictured) have already been completed.
In addition to building playgrounds with KaBOOM!, Foresters is a member of the Leadership Circle within the KaBOOM! National Partner Program. This means Foresters provides long-term guidance and support for KaBOOM! by investing in programs that have a lasting impact on the well-being of families.
See more on the impact of a Foresters Playground Build:
Learn about how you can impact your community with Foresters at MyForesters.com.
We know KaBOOM! helps communities build playgrounds in a matter of weeks, but a new study proves what we have seen anecdotally from more than 2,100 playground builds since our founding in 1996: that our impact goes beyond a healthy playspace for kids.
A report by Knight Foundation finds that KaBOOM! projects help volunteers and local organizations cultivate the skills, confidence and inspiration they need to get more involved in their communities. KaBOOM!: Playgrounds that Build Communities provides lessons for groups seeking to engage volunteers in community change efforts. Key to the success is our approach. KaBOOM! offers a highly structured playbook that yields a quick, achievable win motivating people to become more engaged in improving neighborhoods.
This great infographic from Knight Foundation illustrates how our playgrounds spark community change: