"I dream about having a playground — a real playground, a fun playground — in our neighborhood. But all we have is an empty lot down the street from my apartment."
When a little girl sees a man measuring the empty lot, she’s sure that he’s there to help make her playground dream come true. And he is!
Inspired by the real story of the first-ever playground build by KaBOOM!, here is the story of how a determined young girl, with the help of her family, friends and community, makes her dream playground in her own neighborhood a reality.
"This book may inspire more than dreams," notes Kirkus Reviews. Written by Kate Becker, VP of Program Management at KaBOOM!, the book's spirited prose is brought to life by illustrator Jed Henry's "charmingly childlike" pictures (Kirkus Reviews).
Sadly, like the girl depicted in this book, all too many children lack access to a safe place to play. They will learn that with spirit and resolve, they too can make their playground dreams come true.
As we look back on the KaBOOM! 15th birthday year, it is hard not to feel pride in all that we – the broader KaBOOM! community – have accomplished toward realizing our vision of a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
Together we have built 2,072 playgrounds empowering communities across North America to come together for the greater good. We have taken all of our knowledge and made it available – for free – so people can self-organize and build playgrounds at a much faster pace than we can alone, while also building local skills, capacity and social capitol.
We have mapped 89,145 playgrounds in our effort to create a nationwide Map of Play, which will in turn illuminate Play Deserts, allowing us to use our resources even more strategically to serve those communities most in need. To that end, we created a mobile app, Playgrounds!, to make it easier for you to add to our Map of Play and find great places to play in your neighborhood.
We recognized 151 Playful City USA honorees across the country for their efforts to make their cities more playful. And, with your support, my book, KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play, was #4 on the NY Times Bestseller list, enrolling more communities, mayors, teachers and parents in the movement to save play.
With so much to celebrate, it’s easy to get lost in the excitement. But we must not forget that KaBOOM! was founded out of a tragedy – the lost lives of Iyesha and Clendon, who suffocated to death while playing in an abandoned car because they didn’t have a safe place to play. That story, as reported in the Washington Post, inspired me to bring people together and do something: build a playground.
This year, we turned another tragedy into hope in Phil Campbell, Ala., whose town was nearly destroyed by the largest tornado in Alabama history. Twenty-six people were killed including two students and a teacher from Phil Campbell Elementary School. Along with homes and businesses, their only playground was shredded by winds reaching over 210 MPH. Residents from Phil Campbell are still struggling to put their lives back together, but on December 17th they got a new playground, thanks to support from Disney, and two Imagination Playground™ in a Box™ sets, thanks to the generosity of donors from across the country.
Our mission to help communities build playgrounds is also driven by the fact that outdoor play is critical to the health and well-being of our children, yet today's kids have fewer opportunities and less time to play than any previous generation.
As we look ahead to the next 15 years, we must recommit to and act on behalf of Iesha and Clendon and all of the children in our lives to ensure that they have a great place to play and that play is prioritized at home and in school. Whether that means organizing a playground build in your neighborhood, joining our online community on Facebook or donating to our broader efforts, make a resolution to help advance the cause of play.
Oh, and don’t forget to have some fun along the way!
Founder and CEO, KaBOOM!
Exciting news -- KaBOOM! was featured on the Today Show this morning! Reported by Jenna Bush Hager, the segment profiled our 2,000 playground builds and our CEO and Founder Darell Hammond's bestselling book, KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play.
Jenna Bush Hager and a film crew visited a KaBOOM! playground in Philadelphia and spoke to KaBOOM! alumnus Imanni Wilkes. The crew then traveled to Mooseheart, the group home where Darell lived from age four to 18, and captured Darell talking to the kids who are current residents of the "child city."
The crew also visited Lawrence, Mass. on June 9, 2011 to see a KaBOOM! playground build in action.
The Today Show producer says the segment is one of their best and brought tears of joy to production staff and editors. Watch it now!
Suddenly, everyone is talking about play – and that’s because our Founder and CEO’s memoir, KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play, is a national bestseller!
KaBOOM! is number 4 on The New York Times Bestseller list, number 7 on The Wall Street Journal Bestseller List, number 49 on the USA Today Bestseller list. When the book launched on April 26, it also ranked number one on Amazon.com!
This exciting exposure gives us a unique opportunity to introduce folks across the country to our movement to save play. It’s our goal to move the national conversation about play to mass community-based action. We want to see moms, dads, educators, and advocates like you improving and building local playgrounds, mapping the state of play in your community, and rallying to save play for your neighborhood children.
Get started by hosting a book party to get your friends and neighbors talking about play! Download our DIY Book Party Toolkit.
Our CEO and Founder's long-anticipated book, KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play, launches today and already ranks among Amazon's top 10 bestsellers! This represents an tremendous opportunity to grow our movement and to enlist moms, dads, teachers, and community advocates nationwide in the fight to save play.
Help us keep up the momentum! Here are five things you can do get people talking: