FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON D.C. (May 16, 2007) —
On May 21, the students at Drew Elementary School in New Orleans will no longer have to call the broken asphalt behind the school their playground. Instead, they will be able to swing, jump and slide on a brightly-colored, state-of-the-art custom playground built in just one day by more than 300 volunteers. The new playground is the 50th built in the Gulf Coast by the nonprofit organization KaBOOM! as part of its Operation Playground initiative to build 100 playgrounds in communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"KaBOOM! is committed to bringing play back to the Gulf Coast, one playground at a time. Every child deserves a place to run, jump, have fun and just be a kid. We are proud to reach this important milestone and we couldn’t have done it without incredible support from our partners. There is so much more work to do, though, to ensure there is a great place to play within walking distance of every child in the Gulf Coast," said KaBOOM! CEO and co-founder Darell Hammond.
Since launching Operation Playground in December 2005, KaBOOM! has raised $3.7M to build 50 playspaces in Gulf Coast communities, providing more than 17,500 Gulf Coast children with a great places to play. To date, Operation Playground has mobilized over 25,000 volunteers from across the country. The first 50 Operation Playground projects have included the building of 10 playgrounds in four days with partners The Home Depot and Playworld Systems Inc. during the Hurricane Katrina Anniversary. This February, KaBOOM! partnered with Fannie Mae to build six playgrounds in one day at elementary schools across New Orleans. Other partners contributing assets for three or more playgrounds in the Gulf Coast include Jim Barksdale, ING DIRECT and AmeriCares.
Each KaBOOM! playground is designed by the children who will use it, planned by local residents and built entirely by volunteers. The playground at Drew Elementary School is being built at the behest of the popular daytime television show Live with Regis and Kelly, which initiated the project in conjunction with the show’s visit to the area. Planning for the project began in March when students, parents and school staff met with organizers from KaBOOM! and representatives from the show to design their dream playground. Since then, a planning committee made up of teachers, parents and representatives from KaBOOM! and Live with Regis and Kelly have met weekly to plan the playground build as well as volunteer recruitment, site preparation and safety/logistics. The hard work will pay off on May 21 and for years to come as Drew Elementary students enjoy their new playground.
"We thank KaBOOM! for its initiative in rebuilding local playgrounds in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast. KaBOOM! is helping to strengthen our New Orleans Recreation Department one playground at a time," said Mayor C. Ray Nagin. "Supporting the positive development of our youth is critical to our city’s recovery."
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids – particularly those growing up in poverty in America – the childhood they deserve filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build, open or improve nearly 16,700 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers and served 8.5 million kids. KaBOOM! creates great places to play, inspires communities to promote and support play, and works to drive the national discussion about the importance of play in fostering healthy and productive lives. To learn why #playmatters, visit kaboom.org or join the conversation at twitter.com/kaboom or facebook.com/kaboom.