President Obama and the First Lady join KABOOM! during National Day of Service and Remembrance Link copied!

September 23, 2018


President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama joined representatives from KABOOM!, MyGoodDeed, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, Corporation for National and Community Service, The Inspired Teaching School, and Washington community members to commemorate this year’s National Day of Service and Remembrance by participating in a playground build and service projects to improve the lives of local children though play.

Volunteer Nicole Newman packs “Go Out and Play” backpacks with President Obama.

As a young girl growing up in challenging circumstances in Washington, D.C., Nicole moved into Lydia’s House, a non-profit dedicated to serving at-risk kids and families. At Lydia’s House, Nicole was surrounded by caring adults who encouraged her to enjoy being a kid and gave her permission to play.

Play helps me relax. It’s not healthy to walk around tense all the time.

Nicole participated in a KABOOM! design day where she had the chance to draw her dream playground and witness it become a reality with the help of more than 200 community volunteers and KABOOM! organizers. Her experience – of helping to create a safe place to play for herself and her friends; rolling up her sleeves and volunteering for a good cause; and watching something as seemingly simple as play help those at Lydia’s House address the toxic stress many of them faced – left a lifelong impression on her.

Play is the place where I can just be Nicole.

She has dedicated her life to improving the D.C. community and helping kids get the playful childhood she enjoyed so they too can thrive. After serving with AmeriCorps, Nicole went on to become the director of development at Lydia’s House. She is now a community organizer for the D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative. And just a few months ago, Nicole led a planning committee for a KABOOM! playground build in Northeast D.C. that is now serving more than 500 kids! She credits where she is today as a direct result of caring adults giving her the opportunity to have a playful childhood and just be a kid.

Where I am today is a direct result of people giving me permission to just be a kid, and not let my environment or my family relationships define me in a way that limited me.