Playground Pioneers Complete the 50th Playground Build in the Gulf Coast
For Immediate Release
Washington, DC, 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 a national nonprofit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Over the past decade, KaBOOM! has used its innovative community-build model to bring together business and community interests to construct more than 1,100 new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America. KaBOOM! also offers a variety of resources, including a web site and online community, regional and national trainings, grants and publications for communities that wish to plan a new playspace on their own. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago, Atlanta and San Mateo, CA. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.
KaBOOM! is pleased to announce that on May 21, we will celebrate our 50th Operation Playground build in partnership with LIVE with Regis and Kelly and Disney-ABC Domestic Television at Drew Elementary in New Orleans, LA! Since its launch in December 2005, Operation Playground has provided more than 17,500 Gulf Coast children with great places to play thanks to the participation and leadership of more than 25,000 volunteers. We've accomplished a lot, but there is still much more work to be done! Help KaBOOM! achieve our goal to provide every child with a safe place to play within walking distance.
By Maria Montoya, The Times-Picayune
Bare. Empty. Boring.
That's how some of the fifth-graders of Medard H. Nelson UNO Charter School described the playground on their St. Bernard Avenue campus. Not that many of the students got to spend much time playing there pre-Katrina. They had a mere two days at the school before it was submerged in floodwater.
Earlier this summer, Nelson's principal, Ava Lee, got word that her school was chosen to be the site of an Operation Playground building project. A two-year initiative of the national nonprofit KaBOOM! to build 100 playgrounds in communities affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Operation Playground is committed to bringing play back to the Gulf Coast.
Alliance for a Healthier Generation Healthy Schools Forum Gives Educators Tools to Transform School Health Environments
President Bill Clinton and American Heart Association Announce criteria to help schools promote healthy lifestyles among students and staff
Little Rock, July 31 – President Bill Clinton addressed representatives from 170 schools from across the country today at the first ever Alliance for a Healthier Generation Healthy Schools Forum. 202 schools from 12 states, including many schools where children are most at risk for obesity, are part of the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program pilot year and will receive hands on technical support to make their school healthier.
President Clinton encouraged participants to be agents of change in their communities and gave clear guidance to schools nationwide about how to create healthy environments for their students and staff by announcing the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Criteria. The forum, which is being held at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., is being sponsored by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation – a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation. The Forum marks the official launch of the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program.
“I am thrilled to be here today with members of these schools who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of making their schools healthier places for their children to learn,” said President Bill Clinton. “ I believe these standards can be a great step forward in shaping the health, education, and well-being of the next generation and they will encourage more and more schools to provide healthy environments for the millions of students in America’s schools today. Thank you all for coming and I look forward to working with all of you.”
To address the root causes of childhood obesity, the Alliance recognizes not just the vital role played by nutrition, but also the critical need for environments like playgrounds that encourage kids to be physically active. That is why after announcing the Healthy Schools Criteria, President Clinton announced a new partnership with KaBOOM!, a nonprofit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America and which will mobilize communities to build new playgrounds in a number of our pilot schools across the country.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, announced the Healthy Schools Program in February, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Healthy Schools Program is designed to effect real change in schools through a criteria based recognition program that rewards schools for creating a healthier place for students to learn. The criteria announced by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation today outline standards that address food offerings in school cafeterias and competitive foods, physical activity during and after the school day, physical education and health education and staff wellness programs. Schools across the country can apply for recognition at the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels.
A key component of the Healthy Schools Program is the provision of support and assistance to schools striving to meet the criteria. The Forum is the first time the schools participating in the support portion of the program, will be publicly announced. More than 200 schools from 12 states are currently enrolled in the pilot and will receive direct assistance from the Alliance to help them assess their current school environment, develop action plans and implement changes that will make their school environments healthier.
In this first year, the program is focusing on schools whose student population, based on specific socio-economic and demographic factors, is most at risk for obesity. Ironically, these children are often the last to receive help and interventions from programs like the Healthy School Program because they are the most difficult to reach. By implementing the Healthy Schools Program first in at-risk schools, and testing the program in the most challenging environments, it is expected that the program will achieve long-term success across all student populations.
“What makes the Healthy Schools Program stand out is its hands-on approach to helping schools gain recognition,” said Dr. Raymond Gibbons, president of the American Heart Association. “We aren’t just releasing a set of criteria and expecting schools to reach those goals on their own, but we are giving them support along the way. In addition, the program is different from other school health efforts in that it recognizes achievements around broader, school-wide change, rather than just one aspect of health such as physical activity or nutrition.”
The Forum provides participants with opportunities to learn skills that will help them change the environments in their schools to better promote health and wellness among students and staff. Keynote speakers include President Clinton, Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher and Dr. Howell Wechsler, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Division of Adolescent and School Health.
The Alliance has partnered with Governor Mike Huckabee to serve in a leadership capacity for the organization. Gov. Huckabee will address Forum participants on Aug. 1.
“I’m pleased to be able to address the inaugural Healthy Schools Forum,” said Governor Mike Huckabee. “The schools in this room have committed to building a healthier environment for their students. I’m glad that with the technical help and healthy schools criteria announced at this forum,, we will be able to produce real, on the ground change in these schools, helping to fight childhood obesity and create a healthier generation.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided the initial grant to support the Healthy Schools Program.
“School is where our children spend their days and where they learn habits that stay with them for life,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The schools that are taking part in the first year of the program will help us write the lesson plan to improve health for millions of children.”
Making changes in the school environment is one strategy in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s comprehensive effort to reduce childhood obesity across the nation. The Alliance has also partnered with the number one kids’ television network Nickelodeon on the Let’s Just Play Go Healthy Challenge – an on-air, online and grassroots effort to mobilize kids to adopt healthy lifestyles. To date, over 100,000 kids have pledged to Go Healthy as a result of the campaign.
Recently, the Alliance and the nation’s largest beverage companies announced new guidelines that will help schools provide lower calorie and more nutritious beverage to students. These guidelines are part of the Healthy School Program criteria. The Alliance hopes that its work with the beverage industry sets the stage for working with other industries that can help schools make healthy choices easier for students.
As the new school year begins, all schools nationwide can apply for recognition and receive online tools and resources by going to www.HealthierGeneration.org. The Alliances Healthy School Builder will help schools determine if they qualify for recognition and will provide actionable steps to help them reach the various award levels. The Healthy School Builder will be available on Aug. 11.
The event is held in cooperation with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, with many of the events taking place at the school.
About The Alliance for a Healthier Generation:
The Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association partnered in May 2005 to create a new generation of healthy Americans by addressing one of the nation’s leading public health threats –- childhood obesity. The Alliance focuses on preventing childhood obesity and creating healthier lifestyles for all children.
The Alliance targets several areas that will spark change and slow the increasing rates of childhood obesity in the U.S. and encourage healthier lifestyles for young people. The effort will focus on four key areas: industry; schools, healthcare professionals and kids. For more information visit www.HealthierGeneration.org
Company to Re-Open Two New Orleans-Area Stores Completely Destroyed by Hurricanes
New Investment Increases Total Commitment in Region to $75 Million
ATLANTA, May 4, 2006 – Following the most devastating hurricane season in American history, The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, announced today that it is investing $57 million to support rebuilding efforts throughout the Gulf region. Combining capital construction with philanthropic support, this investment will create jobs, drive economic activity, and support local community efforts to rebuild homes and offer hope for the future.
The bulk of the new $57 million commitment will support capital projects in the region. The company will spend more than $13 million to re-open two New Orleans-area stores, in Chalmette and along I-10 in New Orleans, that were completely destroyed. An additional $43 million will support the opening of new The Home Depot stores, including a recently announced site in downtown New Orleans near the Superdome, a new site in East Slidell, LA, and other sites along the Gulf Coast.
The Home Depot is also expanding its philanthropic commitment to the region by donating an additional $750,000 in funding to support the following community rebuilding efforts:
With these new commitments, The Home Depot adds to earlier investments in the region of more than $10 million in philanthropic support and more than $7 million in capital funding. In total, the company will have invested more than $75 million dollars into the Gulf community and anticipates significant future investments in the region as it scales its business to respond to community rebuilding needs.
“The Home Depot has been working to help support and rebuild communities in hurricane-prone areas for more than 20 years,” said Bob Nardelli, chairman, president & CEO of The Home Depot. “The 2005 hurricane season had a devastating impact on millions of people and hundreds of communities. We have created a model for responding to community needs following a disaster – one that is holistic, community-driven and sustainable over time. As a business with the resources and know-how to support these efforts, we have a responsibility to help.”
The Home Depot has previously committed $7.1 million in capital construction to re-open existing stores and to establish new temporary locations in Gretna, La., and Pass Christian, Miss. The additional $56.3 million commitment described above will increase the company’s business investment in the Gulf region to $63.4 million.
The 2005 hurricanes impacted close to 80 Home Depot stores, some of which experienced significant damage. Two stores – I-10 and Chalmette – were completely destroyed and were temporarily re-opened in modified tent formats outside the previous Home Depot locations. Re-opening these stores in full The Home Depot layouts will enable the company to meet the extraordinary needs of homeowners for building materials, tarps, appliances, generators, roofing, flooring and other products as they continue repairing and rebuilding their homes.
As a result of The Home Depot’s commitment to sustaining its business operations and responding to community needs in the region, the company has created 1,240 net new jobs as stores re-opened and increased operations to respond to brisk customer demand in the region. The company also offered transfers to other The Home Depot stores for nearly 600 associates who had worked and lived in the Gulf region but relocated following the storm. Additionally, the company projects an additional 230 new full- and part-time associates will be hired in the region over the next 90 days.
Through The Home Depot’s Rebuilding Hope & Homes program, the company has already donated more than $10 million in cash and materials to hurricane relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts in the Gulf following the 2005 hurricane season. The additional $750,000 will raise the company’s philanthropic support in the region to $11.1 million and will further accelerate rebuilding activity in communities along the coast. Investments have included:
The Home Depot’s approach to disaster response and rebuilding, characterized by engagement with local leaders and investment in local programs, reinforces its leadership position in embedded philanthropy and offers a model for business leaders to leverage community and non-profit partners to make a bigger difference in their communities. As an example, in Pass Christian, MS, The Home Depot met with community leaders within days following Hurricane Katrina to identify local needs and philanthropic opportunities. In partnership with those leaders, the company has invested more than $1 million over the subsequent eight months in a variety of recovery and rebuilding programs in Pass Christian, including:
Most recently, The Home Depot and KaBOOM! partnered with more than 500 volunteers from the local community and from organizations like Hands On Network, Americorps, and volunteer groups from around the country to build the town’s first permanent structure completed after Katrina – a 6,000 square foot playground, surrounded by dozens of newly planted trees and shrubs, picnic tables and benches. This community-led volunteer effort restored the town’s beloved War Memorial Park, giving residents hope for the future and pride in the progress they have made to restore the town they love.
Finally, as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to help communities mitigate disaster through preparation, The Home Depot is hosting hurricane preparation clinics at stores in the Gulf region throughout the approaching hurricane season. These clinics will teach customers how to protect their homes and families from the impact of hurricanes.
The Home Depot
The Home Depot® is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer, with 2,061 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico. Through its HD SupplySM businesses, The Home Depot is also one of the largest diversified wholesale distributors in the United States, with more than 900 locations in the United States and Canada offering products and services for building, improving and maintaining homes, businesses and municipal infrastructures. In fiscal 2005, The Home Depot had sales of $81.5 billion and earnings of $5.8 billion. The Company employs approximately 355,000 associates and has been recognized by FORTUNE magazine as the No. 1 Most Admired Specialty Retailer and the No. 13 Most Admired Corporation in America for 2006. The Home Depot’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: HD) and is included in the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index.
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