Playgrounds, children and joy: three things that go together about as well as anything.
Promoting the happiness and well-being of kids and families is at the heart of what Disney does each and every day, which is why KaBOOM! and Disney have partnered together to build dozens of playgrounds and community gardens across the U.S.
Disney is a KaBOOM! National Partner and supports the efforts of KaBOOM! to help achieve our vision of a great play to play within walking distance of every child in America. As part of their 2013 efforts with KaBOOM!, Disney will build14 new playgrounds in 10 states and Mexico. By the end of 2013, Disney’s support will bring the magic of play to more than 50,000 children and families. Disney also supports KaBOOM! mapping efforts by encouraging everyone to map playspaces and to help identify areas most in need.
In May, Disney is celebrating 30 years of VoluntEARS – Disney’s companywide volunteer efforts. KaBOOM! and Disney will celebrate the anniversary by bringing smiles and laughter to thousands of children and families with playground builds in Clermont, Fla., Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Cloud, Fla., and Kailua, Hawaii.
Check out the video link here to Disney’s latest project in Chicago:
What does a stay-at-home mom do when her three boys are home for the summer? That’s the question that Florida mom Tracey Quinn was grappling with back in the summer of 2009, when she found herself facing “83 days of figuring out something for them to do besides watching TV and playing video games.”
On the first day, I decided to take the boys to the nearest neighborhood park. That would at least get us out of the house. While they were enjoying the playground, it occurred to me that I should challenge myself, and my kids, to get out each day and… document our excursions.
On the second day:
We packed a cooler and headed to the next-nearest city park, which we had never visited before. My kids were having so much fun, I practically had to beg them to leave. I decided to up the ante on the previous day’s challenge: Could we not only get out of the house, but visit a new park each day? Surely we could find 81 more parks within driving distance from our house.
Tracey, who lives in the Playful City USA community of Safety Harbor, was able to find 59 playspaces within a 25-mile radius. She says, “OK, so we took a few breaks… But ‘The Great Park Pursuit’ certainly got us out of the house, and the kids looked forward to a new challenge each day.”
The so-called Great Park Pursuit didn’t stop there. When Tracey shared her summer adventures with KaBOOM!, we liked the idea so much that we decided to challenge parents across the country to do the same. For three years now, the KaBOOM! Summer Playground Challenge has asked families to get outside with their kids and while they’re at it, to document the playgrounds they visit on our crowd-sourced Map of Play.
Tracey and her boys have now spent four consecutive summers exploring playgrounds. In the process, they have visited and mapped every publicly accessible playground in Safety Harbor and traveled all over Pinellas County to find new places to play. Our all-time champion mapper, Tracey has added 132 playgrounds to our Map of Play and a staggering 1,399 photos!
Because of Tracey’s tireless efforts, KaBOOM! can now map Play Deserts in Pinellas County – that is, areas that are child-rich but playground-poor. Her data is vital to helping us figure out where more playgrounds need to be built.
Meanwhile, Tracey’s boys have reaped the physical, social, and cognitive benefits of summers full of rigorous outdoor play. But they are growing up fast. Tracey says:
What I've learned… is that kids don't stay young very long and to appreciate every day with them. Although most playgrounds are "recommended" for up to 12 years old… my oldest [son’s] feet touch the ground while holding most monkey bars. As he continues to "grow up" both physically and emotionally, I know that spending summers together at playgrounds will eventually come to an end.
Maybe, Tracey muses, she can map basketball courts next?
In 2011, Tracey and her boys revisited one of the first playgrounds they went to and re-posed for a photo, showing how much they had grown in just two years.
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:
Investing in children is investing in all our futures. Please help and let them play everyday.
Currently only one in five children lives within walking distance of a playground -- and you can help us change that. Are you ready to do some good? Join our national effort to map and rate every playground in America, and help us activate 200,000 people to do the same.
How? It's easy:
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!:
Play is fun. But its loss is no laughing matter. Please help and let them play everyday.
"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.
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!