"I work at the Office of Education Innovation in Indianapolis, so I spend a lot of time every day thinking about how to improve the quality of education for kids in Indiana. I’d never heard of KaBOOM! until the fall of 2010 when I volunteered at a playground build at a local school.
After an incredible build day experience I started reading the KaBOOM! monthly newsletters and getting interested in the concepts of free and creative play for kids. I started learning more about how skills, learned mainly through free and unstructured play, could be beneficial to my kids once they were grown up and working in the real world.
I watched other over-eager parents working to give their kids an edge with more structured play time with pre-fabricated crafts, organized play dates, sports teams, music lessons and more. Now I just smile to myself, knowing my messy home is a testament to my kids ability to play with anything, any time, anywhere.
Thanks to the KaBOOM! community, and like-minded blogs like Free Range Kids, I learned how important child-directed and imaginative play is for my kids social, physical, cognitive and emotional development. And, anytime I need a reminder - there’s a world wide web of people out there to support me!"
– Christina Summers, Indianapolis, IN
Play it forward so we can keep motivating moms like Christina to let their kids play.
"It was just a typical Wednesday afternoon in April, and I had no idea what I was about to get myself into. I was picking up my kids after school and heard about a meeting taking place down the hall. They promised a free meal and some entertainment for my kids, and that sounded like a good deal to me.
I went over and found out that KaBOOM! was going to be building a new playground at my local community center. As I was enjoying a hot bowl of stew my kids were drawing their dream designs for the new playground, I was hooked.
As the weeks of planning went on I found myself taking on more and more. Before I knew it I was leading the Food Committee and was walking around my neighborhood asking for donations of food – enough to feed the nearly 200 volunteers we expected on Build Day. I realized how much I was really capable of taking on.
Before this project I was a single mom just doing the best for my kids, but the KaBOOM! project made me feel like I could give so much more. On Build Day all my efforts were totally worth it. It made me realize how strong of a person I really am and how much more I can give, and that is something I’m reminded of every day when I walk by the playground or watch my kids play on it."
– Jesse Chittick, Calgary, AB
Jesse discovered a motivation and drive in herself she thought she’d lost a long time ago. With the new playground serving as tangible evidence of what she can accomplish she’s already on the lookout for another opportunity to make a difference.
Play it forward with a donation today to help people like Jesse realize how much power they really have.
"I have never been comfortable taking a back seat, especially when my kids (Seth, Jonah and Finn) are involved. I began volunteering at Seth’s school when he was kindergarten and I haven’t stopped. From being a room mom to the PTA and even a member of the Louisville Mayor’s Health Hometown Movement schools committee – I’ll stop at nothing to make sure my kids, and the rest of the kids in our community, have access to the very best education possible. Every child, regardless of background can accomplish and achieve their goals if they know that a community is supporting them and cheering them on. I’m just lucky enough to be one of the cheerleaders.
In 2009 that meant a bringing a new playground to our elementary school. I had the drive, and KaBOOM! had the tools. Together with my partner-in-play, Kassi Clifford, and our school PTA, and with the KaBOOM! do-it-yourself project planner as our guide, we built a great new playground – in just one amazing day!
I so strongly believe that play and recess should not be extras or options, but should be a given part of a daily routine. If we are going to have a future filled with responsible adults we need to help create a world where all children understand collaboration, creativity, and cooperation. And I know KaBOOM! feels the same way."
– Myrdin Thompson, Louisville, KY
KaBOOM! supports the work of PLAY advocates like Myrdin every day. From online project planners to trainings and community outreach, together we can work to make play a reality for every child in America.
Play it forward this holiday season with a gift to keep helping PLAY advocates like Myrdin across the country.
"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.