WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of his ongoing efforts to provide "A Better Tomorrow" for children, NBA All-Star Antawn Jamison and national non-profit KaBOOM! announced a new partnership to encourage and promote play among children across the country.
KaBOOM!, an organization that empowers communities to build playgrounds, will team with Jamison to sponsor a playground build in his hometown of Shreveport in September of 2008 with the potential to build playgrounds in other areas in the future. Additionally, Jamison will serve as a KaBOOM! All-Star Playmaker – an extension of the Playmaker Network consisting of national leaders and celebrities who take action for play on behalf of KaBOOM!, while promoting the importance of play.
Jamison, whose "A Better Tomorrow" campaign has helped countless individuals across the country via scholarships, clothing and food donations and financial contributions, participated alongside hundreds of volunteers to build a KaBOOM! playground in just one day in New Orleans on Feb. 15 at the Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood and Family Learning Center in conjunction with the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. Inspired by the massive community involvement and the tangible result of a playground that will serve thousands of children, Jamison contacted KaBOOM! to facilitate building a playground in his childhood home of Shreveport.
"Encouraging children to play by building playgrounds is important to me because it not only allows a kid to be a kid, but it also helps bring entire communities together," Jamison said. "Those are two of my biggest charitable goals. It seems that television and video games are making so many children grow up too quickly these days. Playing video games is fun but playing outside and interacting with other kids is where friendships are built and dreams are created."
KaBOOM!, a Washington D.C. based non-profit, has helped build nearly 1,400 playgrounds, skateparks, ice rinks and sports fields across North America since its inception in 1995 via its innovative community-build model.
"When we look for individuals to partner with, our top priority is finding people with a true passion for making a difference in the lives of children," said Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! CEO & co-founder. "Without question, Antawn has that passion and it's evident in the programs he's sponsored in the past. We're ecstatic that he's joining with us in our mission to spread the message that play is invaluable and critical to the development of children."
The playground that will eventually be built in Shreveport will be designed based on drawings submitted by children from the area at a Design Day event held prior to the build. A locally formed playground planning committee will work closely with Antawn and a local partner to prepare for the build, which will take place in just one day through the efforts of Antawn, a Shreveport-based organization, KaBOOM! and volunteers from the local community.
"Helping out with the build in New Orleans was one of my most memorable experiences during All-Star Weekend," Jamison said. "I didn't realize how much hard work goes into building a playground. It was very inspirational to see all those community members and volunteers working together to provide a place where kids can play and feel safe. There's nothing like physically helping to build a playground for kids. I'm looking forward to the next build so I can step in and get my hands dirty. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Jamison will also assist KaBOOM! in promotional efforts for WE Play! (Workshops Entirely on Play!) – free regional trainings occurring across the country that provide networking opportunities and first-hand success stories on how to bring play back into the lives of children. KaBOOM! will host its first WE Play! training in Washington, D.C. on April 10 with another to follow May 13 in Charlotte – the city where Jamison attended high school.
"The word ‘play' molded me into the person I am today," Jamison said. "Growing up in Shreveport was all about having a special place to hang out and converse with my friends. That special place was a little playground. That one little playground gave me so many chances. It helped instill my work ethic and passion for basketball and ultimately helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my life."
About Antawn Jamison
In his tenth professional season out of the University of North Carolina, Antawn Jamison has served as a team captain for the Washington Wizards for the past four seasons. A two-time NBA All-Star (2005, 2008), Jamison has averaged at least 19 points per game in eight of his ten professional seasons. This season, Jamison is averaging 21.5 points and a career-high 10.2 rebounds per game, and is one of just five players in the NBA averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. He was awarded the NBA's Community Assist Award in 2003 for his incredible community service efforts in North Carolina. As a former winner of the Magic Johnson Award, presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association to an NBA player who combines excellence on the court with outstanding cooperation with the media, and a two-time honoree by The Sporting News as one of the "Good Guys" in sports, Jamison is also a fixture at Washington Wizards community events.
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 nearly 1,400 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, Atlanta and San Mateo, Calif.