FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 03, 2010) —
In the past, summer vacation meant kids were out playing from sun up to sundown in their neighborhoods, playgrounds or parks. But today, opportunities for play are dwindling—the U.S. is suffering from a severe shortage of places for kids to play. According to a recent report from the Center for Disease Control, there aren’t enough parks and playgrounds for children to be active every day. And while the lack of play opportunities affects all kids, it has a particularly negative effect on girls and kids in low-income neighborhoods.
For 14 years, KaBOOM! (kaboom.org), a nonprofit dedicated to saving play for America’s children, has been addressing the growing play deficit by actively initiating and facilitating more play opportunities as well as helping to innovate play.
“Play is important for all kids—no matter what their gender or socio-economic standing is,” said Darell Hammond, CEO and Co-founder of KaBOOM! . “Too many children are growing up without a suitable outdoor place to spend time and play. We believe kids need the same opportunities to play that we had growing up. It’s important for all of us to engage our kids in play—whether that’s taking them to a park or playground or creating fun games to do at home or in the neighborhood.”
Girls Just Don’t Play Enough
According to the CDC report, only one in five homes has a park within a half-mile—and only 17 percent of blocks have a fitness or recreation center within that distance. Without easy access to suitable places to play, kids today are not getting as much physical activity as they need—a key contributing factor to the childhood obesity epidemic.
The lack of play opportunities affects girls and kids in low-income neighborhoods in particular, where the play deficit is leading to increased rates of obesity. Studies have shown that girls, in general, are less likely to participate in unstructured physical activity—or play—than boys. A 2008 study from the Archives of Disease in Childhood, showed that only 11 percent of girls ages 5 to 8 get the recommended hour a day of physical activity, compared with 42 percent of boys. Without access to suitable playspaces, the issue is compounded.
In neighborhoods with unfavorable socioeconomic conditions (such as poor housing or lack of access to parks and recreation centers), children are 20-60 percent more likely to be obese or overweight. In addition, girls ages 10-11 in these neighborhoods were two to four times more likely to be overweight or obese than their counterparts from higher-income neighborhoods.
Engage Your Kids in Play—Slides, Swings and Pet Sharks?
KaBOOM! has been building playgrounds in underserved neighborhoods across the country for the last 14 years—helping to build playgrounds in low-income neighborhoods. Part of the process includes the KaBOOM! Design Days where the neighborhood kids can “design” their dream playgrounds. Using paper and crayons, KaBOOM! staffers invite the kids to draw their ideal playgrounds.
“We’ve found that by engaging kids, parents and community members in the process, the community overall feels more invested in the finished playground. Including the kids’ design ideas into the playground helps them feel like they had a hand in creating it—and hopefully keeps them coming back and playing more often,” added Hammond.
While boys and girls may participate in play at different levels and in different ways, KaBOOM! has found through their Design Days that there aren’t big differences in what boys and girls ask for in their dream playgrounds. Not surprisingly, slides, swings and clubhouses are popular items. On the less traditional side, kids have also asked for football fields, video games, dinosaur fossils—and most recently a pet shark.
5 Ideas to Make Play Happen
In addition to building playgrounds, KaBOOM! also has a number of free tools and simple tips to empower more communities to create more play opportunities and give our children the chance to lead healthy, productive lives.
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.