“Words cannot describe how grateful I am by all the work you all at KaBOOM! did for Long Beach. The new playground is fantastic and even better than before! I cannot wait for my little girl to be able to play there. In just a few more months, she'll at least be on the swing set! Again, thank you for everything. This project was definitely the best volunteering experience I have ever had." - Anthony Dalto, Long Beach, N.Y.
Hurricane Sandy struck Long Beach, N.Y., one year ago today, leaving an incredible path of destruction in its wake. Like many residents in the northeast, Long Beach residents lost their homes, their schools and their neighborhoods because of the catastrophic storm. Like many communities, Long Beach also lost one of the few places for children to play: Magnolia Playground.
As many in the northeast would also determine, Long Beach residents realized that in the aftermath of such a monumental natural disaster that play becomes even more critical because it creates a sense of normalcy and provides an emotional outlet for children during a time of extreme stress. So, in addition to many homes and schools needing to be rebuilt, children needed a place to play.
On May, 18, 2013, 242 volunteers from the Long Beach community joined with local organization Surf For All, the City of Long Beach, JetBlue and KaBOOM! to rebuild Magnolia Playground. In less than eight hours, volunteers built a child-designed playground that will serve thousands of children for years to come.
The Long Beach project marked the first of 11 playground builds to be built in 2013 directly by KaBOOM! and our partners, including BNP Paribas, Disney, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, JetBlue and UnitedHealthcare. Even Queen Latifah pitched in to bring play to Sandy survivors.
The last of these 11 playground projects will be completed on Saturday, when more than 200 volunteers will build a brand new playground at The Community YMCA Family Health and Wellness Center, which serves hundreds of children and families affected by Hurricane Sandy in Red Bank, N.J.
These 11 playgrounds covering more than 27,000 square feet will eventually serve more than 30,000 children and will have been built by more than 2,500 volunteers donating more than 20,000 hours of service.
Additionally, KaBOOM! partnered with Creative Circle, JetBlue and UnitedHealthcare to donate Imagination Playground to four child-serving organizations in the northeast following the storm.
As tremendous as these projects are, our work is not done. There are still thousands of children in Sandy-affected areas and millions of children across North America who do not have a place to play. You can help KaBOOM! give children the childhoods they deserve by taking action to ensure that all children have access to a playground.
In an event fit for a queen, 229 volunteers from Dr Pepper Snapple Group, AmeriCorps and the local community near Seaside Heights, N.J., rallied together to build a brand new playground across the street from Hugh J. Boyd Elementary on August 27.
However, this was no typical playground build. The volunteers and 167 children present for the playground build were joined by royalty: Queen Latifah!
A New Jersey native, Queen Latifah knew first-hand about the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy on Seaside Heights. Boyd Elementary was severely damaged by the storm and its playground was rendered useless, leaving children in Seaside Heights without a playground.
All kids need a balance of all kinds of active play every day to thrive. That becomes even more important after a traumatic event like Superstorm Sandy, because play helps kids process their emotions and gives them a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos. "We know how critical it is that kids are very active. It's critical to their development," said Queen Latifah.
Committed to ensuring that children have a great place to play, Queen Latifah partnered with Dr Pepper Snapple Group and KaBOOM! to build a new playground for children in Seaside Heights, bringing along her show’s crew to document the build day.
The segment about the Seaside Heights project aired on the Queen Latifah Show on October 15.
The kids were thrilled when Queen Latifiah surprised them with an army of more than 200 volunteers ready to build them a new playground. Queen Latifah herself jumped right in to help, assembling playground equipment. Emotions were high as this incredibly resilient community united to bring the gift of play to its children.
The Seaside Heights project was part of the Let’s Play initiative—a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families active nationwide. In 2011, Dr Pepper Snapple Group made a $15 million, three-year commitment to KaBOOM! to build or fix up 2,000 playgrounds, benefiting an estimated five million children across North America.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group and KaBOOM! will continue to help this seaside town rebuild with another playground project on October 23, just before the one year anniversary of SuperStorm Sandy.
Interested in having a KaBOOM! playground in your neighborhood? See what it takes to become a Community Partner.
The days, weeks and months of recovery following a hurricane can take a severe toll on a community, particularly on the children who live there.
As part of JetBlue’s rebuilding efforts, they are partnering with KaBOOM! to bring the joy of play back to communities that have suffered from the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy.
KaBOOM! is actively outreaching to connect with child-serving organizations that have been impacted by the storm to become KaBOOM! Community Partners for JetBlue’s three (3) playground build projects in 2013.
Eligible organizations include the following:
Note: Evaluation and screening of applications will not be exclusive to the JetBlue Rebuild initiative but will be against general viability criteria for a KaBOOM! lead Community Partner Playground project and ALL funding opportunities in the New York/ New Jersey area.
» I am a leader in a Sandy-impacted community. I am interested in having my organization become a KaBOOM! Community Partner. Learn more.
» I know a Sandy-impacted community that needs a playground. I want to help them become a KaBOOM! Community Partner. Let us know!
» I don’t have a specific recommendation but I’m interesting in volunteering my time. Please keep me informed about the JetBlue playground builds.
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To learn more about JetBlue’s rebuilding efforts please visit www.jetblue.com/rebuild.