December 03, 2008

America’s Promise Alliance, KOOL-AID & KaBOOM! Team Up With City of St. Petersburg and Mayor Rick Baker to Build Playground

America’s Promise Alliance, KOOL-AID & KaBOOM! Team Up
With City of St. Petersburg & Mayor Rick Baker to Build New
Playground in Just One Day for Children at Trailhead Park

Child-designed playground to be built by hundreds of volunteers on Dec. 6

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A 2008 KaBOOM! Playful City USA community and one of the 2008 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance, the City of St. Petersburg was selected among more than a dozen other communities to receive a new community-built playground to be built on Saturday, Dec. 6 at Trailhead Park.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, City Council Chair Jamie Bennett and District 6 City Councilman Wengay Newton will join more than 200 volunteers from America’s Promise Alliance, KOOL-AID, the City of St. Petersburg, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the local community to build a new playground at Trailhead Park. The new playground’s design is based on drawings provided by children who attended a Design Day. The playground build will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a kickoff ceremony and will conclude with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2:30 p.m.

St. Petersburg was selected as the winning community for its outstanding work to ensure that all children and youth in its community have a safe place to play. The city’s innovative “Play ‘N’ Close to Home” program utilizes public-private partnerships to build public playgrounds within a safe walking distance (1/2 mile) of every child in the city.

Designed by local youth, the new playground will provide hundreds of children who frequent Trailhead park with a great place to play. The site currently does not have playground equipment and is located in an area of the city with some of the highest concentration of youth and single-parent run households.

“Children are our future, and a top priority of my administration,” said Mayor Baker. “Through our schools initiative and the Mayor’s Mentors & More program, through our commitment to build a playground within a half mile walk of every child in the city, and through St. Petersburg’s award-winning recreation programs that instill character-building, children are at the cornerstone of everything we do in St. Petersburg. If we build a great city for our kids, we create a great future that every resident in St. Petersburg will enjoy for generations to come.””

In 2008, KaBOOM! named St. Petersburg as a Playful City USA – one of 67 communities across the country honored for making a commitment to support play among children. The playground build is one of more than 215 KaBOOM! will lead across the country this year in an effort to provide a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

“We’re thrilled to be recognizing a city like St. Petersburg that clearly values the importance of play for its children,” said KaBOOM! CEO and Co-founder Darell Hammond. “We encourage other cities and towns across the country to follow St. Petersburg’s lead in making play a priority and applying to become a Playful City USA community in 2009.”

A three-time winner of the100 Best Communities for Young People Competition,(100 Best) America’s Promise Alliance has long recognized St. Petersburg for its innovative and effective programs to help young people and families. In addition to the “Play ‘N’ Close to Home” program, the city’s Healthy Start Coalition brings agencies and committed citizens together to ensure pregnant women, their infants and their families have access to the appropriate health information.

“America’s Promise Alliance is proud to be a part of this playground build and to recognize St. Petersburg once again for their outstanding efforts to make young people and families a priority,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, president and CEO of the America’s Promise Alliance. “As a three-time winner of our 100 Best competition, the people of St. Petersburg understand that to really improve outcomes for our young people, you need to make a sustained commitment. But the success of our children shouldn’t be determined by a zip code. That’s why our ultimate hope with this competition and events like today is that by recognizing great communities we will inspire other cities and towns to put children and youth first.”

The playground project is also part of an initiative by KaBOOM! and KOOL-AID to build 24 playgrounds this year that will eventually serve more than 250,000 children. KaBOOM! and KOOL-AID also partnered to disperse $7,500 grants to 20 different organizations across the nation for the purpose of following the KaBOOM! community-build model that enlists the help of volunteers to plan for, design, fundraise for and build a playground.

“The KOOL-AID partnership with KaBOOM! focuses on providing safe places to play for children and we’re excited to substantially increase the play opportunities for children in St. Petersburg,” said Gregory Nesmith, Senior Brand Manager, KOOL-AID. “As we’ve seen in cities and communities nationwide, great things happen when people come together to build playgrounds for our youth. Every child deserves to have a great place to play and that’s exactly what the children of St. Petersburg are receiving.”

St. Petersburg Mayor’s Mentor & More Program
Among the city’s more popular programs is the Mayor’s Mentors & More initiative, where Mayor Baker raised more than $11 million in donations (non-city funds) for schools, supplied 750 Doorways college scholarships for students in free and reduced lunch programs, recruited corporate partners for every public school in the city, and led an effort to recruit and train up to 1,000 community mentors. He developed an innovative housing program that offers teachers up to $20,000 each in forgivable zero-interest loans to purchase homes within the city. At his most recent Top Apple awards ceremony, Mayor Baker honored top performing schools and awarded $72,000 in bonuses for principals and assistant principals. He also announced that, thanks to the efforts of teachers, administrators, parents and the community, the number of A or B-rated schools in St. Petersburg has increased 250 percent from when the Mayor’s, Mentors & More program began in 2001. His schools initiatives have been featured by CNN, Nation’s Cities, Quality Cities, U.S. Mayors, School Reform News, the Detroit Free Press and others.

America’s Promise Alliance
America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership alliance comprised of corporations, nonprofit organizations, foundations, policymakers, advocacy and faith groups committed to ensuring that children receive the fundamental resources – the Five Promises – they need to lead successful, healthy and productive lives and build a stronger society. Building on the legacy of our founder General Colin Powell, the Alliance believes the success of our children is grounded in experiencing the Five Promises – caring adults; safe place; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others—at home, in school and in the community. For more information about America's Promise Alliance visit www.americaspromise.org.

KOOL-AID
Kool-Aid is the iconic soft drink that has stood for fun and refreshment for generations of American families. Although more than 80 years old, Kool-Aid has stayed relevant by offering consumers a wide range of flavors and forms, including powdered and ready-to-drink varieties, some of which are either low in sugar or sugar-free. One thing hasn't changed over the years ... Kool-Aid is still a good value. To learn more about Kool-Aid and the brand's ever-popular spokescharacter, Kool-Aid Man, go to www.koolaid.com

KaBOOM!
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since 1995, KaBOOM! has used its innovative community-build model to bring together business and community interests to construct more than 1,500 new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America. KaBOOM! also offers a variety of resources, including an online community, regional and national trainings, grants, publications and the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play, which includes Playful City USA and the Playmaker Network – a national network of individual advocates for play. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.

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