KaBOOM! News • page 114

FOR RELEASE MARCH 13, 2008 6:00 A.M. PDST

First project kicks off today as children in San Antonio community gather to design their dream playground

March 13, 2008 – SEATTLE – This year, thousands of children across the country will get great new, safe places to play thanks to a new partnership announced today between WaMu, the nation's leading consumer and small business bank, and KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization that empowers communities to build playgrounds. This year-long partnership will bring together almost 2,000 corporate and community volunteers to build child-designed playgrounds in Atlanta, Chatsworth, Calif., Chicago, Jacksonville, Fla., Los Angeles, New York City, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle and one more city to be announced at a later date.

"It's a playful urban version of an old-fashioned barn raising," said Reza Aghamirzadeh, senior vice president of community and external affairs at WaMu. "This partnership is a perfect fit for our employees' hands-on approach to helping create strong communities. Working side by side with our neighbors to protect open spaces and build safe play places, we‘re helping to boost community pride, improve children's health, and strengthen the ties that help neighbors work better together toward shared goals."

This playground-building partnership with KaBOOM! is just one of the many ways WaMu employees are making an impact on their communities. WaMu provides 12 hours of paid time off per quarter for full-time employees to serve their communities. Last year, WaMu employees around the country volunteered 165,350 hours in support of affordable housing, financial education and community strength.

KaBOOM!, a Washington D.C. based non-profit, has helped build more than 1,300 playgrounds, skateparks, ice rinks and sports fields across North America since its inception in 1995 via its innovative community-build model.

"We're ecstatic about this partnership and excited to be working with such a great organization like Washington Mutual," KaBOOM! CEO & Co-Founder Darell Hammond said. "WaMu has consistently demonstrated its commitment to helping communities across the country. We're looking forward to working together in our efforts improve the lives of children as well as to begin inspiring communities everywhere to take positive action on behalf of children."

The playgrounds will be designed based on drawings submitted by children at Design Day events held prior to each of the builds. A locally formed playground planning committee will work closely with the two organizations to prepare for the builds, which will take place in just one day through the efforts of WaMu employees, KaBOOM! and volunteers from the local communities.

The partnership kicks off today with a Design Day in San Antonio when the children and members of the Alamo Area Mutual Housing Association and Castle Ridge Apartments will gather to design their dream playground which WaMu and KaBOOM! volunteers and community members will build together on May 17.

About Washington Mutual, Inc.
Washington Mutual, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is one of the nation's leading consumer and small business banks. At Dec. 31, 2007, Washington Mutual, Inc. and its subsidiaries had assets of $327.91 billion. The company has a history dating back to 1889 and its subsidiary banks currently operate approximately 2,500 consumer and small business banking stores throughout the nation. The company's press releases are available at http://newsroom.wamu.com .

About 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 1,300 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, CA. For more information, visit http://www.kaboom.org.


Atlanta, East Cleveland, Longview (Wash.) are awarded $25,000 grants to fund play-related projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – KaBOOM!, the leading national non-profit promoting play as essential to the healthy development of all children, announced the grant recipients from the nation's founding class of Playful City USA communities on Tuesday.

Via a fun-filled online awards show that aired at 1 p.m. (EST) – the Playful City USA Grant Awards – KaBOOM! announced the communities receiving a total of $100,000 in grants. Atlanta, East Cleveland and Longview (Wash.) each received "Golden Kazoos" and a $25,000 grant that will be used to fund a play-related project in their communities.

In addition, Ankeny (Iowa), Norfolk (Va.), San Francisco, Shirley (Mass.) and Yuma (Ariz.) claimed "Honorary Mention Golden Kazoos" and $5,000 grants that will be used toward each of the communities' 2008 Play Day.

Twenty-one of the nation's founding Playful City USA communities were vying for $100,000 in grants (three $25,000, five $5,000) and each enthusiastically rallied its citizens to support the cause for play as part of the KaBOOM! Playful City USA national recognition program. Every community created fun-filled videos as part of the application process and the videos were collectively viewed more than 150,000 times.

"We're extremely excited to announce the communities that are receiving grants," KaBOOM! CEO and co-founder Darell Hammond said. "I can't begin to describe the amount of hard work that all of our founding Playful City USA communities have shown us – not only to be named a Playful City USA, but also to apply for the grants. It was a challenging process, but it's quite encouraging because we know there are communities across the country that are willing to take action on behalf of play."

The awards were named "The Golden Kazoos" as the kazoo is the official musical instrument at KaBOOM! because children play it better than adults.

On Oct. 30, KaBOOM! announced the 31 founding Playful City USA communities in America after each fulfilled five commitments laid out in the program: creating a local play board, task force, or commission; designing an annual action plan for play; conducting a playspace audit; outlining the financial investment in play for the current fiscal year; and proclaiming and celebrating an annual "play day."

The cities were officially recognized as the nation's founding Playful City USA communities in front of representatives from across the country during the National League of Cities conference in New Orleans, La., Nov. 17-19.

Following the announcement, the communities were given the option of applying for grants by submitting a play-themed, fun-filled video and a detailed plan for how the grant award would be used.

The videos were viewed more than 150,000 times by individuals across the country who voted for their favorite videos from Nov. 30-Dec. 21. A judging panel then determined the eventual winners with strong consideration given to communities that successfully rallied their citizens to vote.

The KaBOOM! Playful City USA Grant Awards Show and the videos submitted by the communities can still be viewed at www.playfulcityusa.org/grant.

2007 Playful City USA Grant Awards Show List of Awards

Golden Kazoos ($25,000 grant)
Atlanta, Ga.
East Cleveland, Ohio
Longview, Wash.

Honorary Mention Golden Kazoos ($5,000 grant)
Ankeny, Iowa
Norfolk, Va.
San Francisco, Calif.
Shirley, Mass.
Yuma, Ariz.

Special Mention Golden Kazoos
Best Dramatic Performance By a Child: Canton, Ga.
Best Music: Cedar City, Utah
Best Orchestra: Dothan, Ala.
Best Belly Dancing: El Paso, Texas
Best Movie Reel: Lake Charles, La.
Best Collective Footwork: Lake Worth, Fla.
Best Swinging: New Lenox, Ill.
Best Performance By a Mayor: New Roads, La.
Best Comedic Performance: Phoenix, Ariz.
Best Stunt: Portsmouth, Ohio
Best Chorus: Spartanburg, S.C.
Best Hook: Tucson, Ariz.
Best Tumbling: Wapello, Iowa

2007 KaBOOM! Playful City USA communities
*Ankeny, Iowa
*Atlanta, Ga.
*Canton, Ga.
*Cedar City, Utah
Chandler, Ariz.
Creedmoor, N.C.
*Dothan, Ala.
*East Cleveland, Ohio
*El Paso, Texas
Gilbert, Ariz.
Greenbelt Md.
Jamestown, N.Y.
Kenner, La.
Kerman, Calif.
Kingsburg, Calif.
*Lake Charles, La.
*Lake Worth, Fla.
*Longview, Wash.
Mountain Grove, Mo.
*New Lenox, Ill.
*New Roads, La.
*Norfolk, Va.
*Phoenix, Ariz.
*Portsmouth, Ohio
*San Francisco, Calif.
San Jose, Calif.
*Shirley, Mass.
*Spartanburg, S.C.
*Tucson, Ariz.
*Wapello, Iowa
*Yuma, Ariz.

* Applied for grant

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 1,300 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, CA.


Fortune Magazine has a section on CNN's Money web site and has published a great article about what KaBOOM! is trying to do. Reporter Jennifer Reingold attended a playground build in North Philadelphia and really did a nice description of the day

Click here to read more.


Beltsville Girl's Gift to 'Katrina Kids'
Raising Money for Others, One Paper Fan at a Time

By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 20, 2007

Seven-year-old Kamilah Bryant just wanted to help children devastated by Hurricane Katrina get their stuff back.

Last year, the Beltsville girl sat down with some colorful paper, crayons and markers and began making hundreds of accordion-style fans. Over the next several months, she sold them for $1 each at church and in the lobby of the Forestville apartment complex where her great-grandmother lived.

Kamilah Bryant, 7, decided last year that she would raise money for children affected by Hurricane Katrina by creating and selling fans.

Her ingenuity resulted in a $1,000 donation to a Washington-based nonprofit group called KaBoom, which used the money in October to purchase a new slide for a playground that the group built to bring smiles back to the faces of children in a New Orleans neighborhood.


NEW ORLEANS, LA -- New Orleans is on the road to recovery from Hurricane Katrina, but there is still a lot of work to do. I know this, because I live here. Houses weren't the only parts of neighborhoods destroyed by floodwaters—we lost our places to play.

To remedy that situation, NBA (National Basketball Association) Cares and the New Orleans Hornets have teamed up with an organization called KaBOOM! to build new playgrounds throughout the city.

On December 8, volunteers from New Orleans and around the U.S. joined members of NBA Cares and the Hornets to help build a playground in an empty lot in the Broadmoor neighborhood. The work goes fast—the playground was built in just eight hours.

(The writer of this article is 11-year-old Abigayle Lista who is interested in science, wants to become a marine biologist, and likes to play with her dogs and surf the web in her spare time.)

Read more of her article here.


December 10, 2007 KaBOOM!

A Seven-Year-Old Makes a Difference

WASHINGTON, DC - A young girl has done something no one else has ever done for a D.C. based non-profit group that builds playgrounds all across the county.

Kamilah Bryant was five years old when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast; a kindergarten student too young to even get a weekly allowance. But like most kids, she had a box of crayons and a pad of paper and that was enough to help her get to work and help hurricane victims get to play.

Kamilah said, "my great-grandmother was telling me about Katrina kids, and I thought I could make more so they could have their stuff back."

She began folding fans and honing a sales pitch. She started selling them at her church last year and then moved on to her community. "I selled them for $1 and people game me $20's and $5's and $10's." She said business is in her blood. "Well, I'm pretty good at business because my dad is a CPA."

Other tidbits from the article:

  • Kamilah ultimately raised $1,000.

LOS ANGELES, CA - Never has the link between poverty and child obesity been more apparent.

A new report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health shows that the richest cities with the most public open space have the lowest rates of obese children. By contrast, cities with larger low-income populations, such as Hawthorne, Lawndale, Carson and Gardena, have more overweight kids.

"Poverty is one of the determinants of obesity, there's no question about that for a whole bunch of reasons," said Dr. Jonathon Fielding, the county's director of public health and lead medical officer.

For the first time, the county used information on obesity rates from the California Department of Education and compared it to a number of factors that contribute to economic hardship, such as unemployment rates, education levels and households that earn less than the federal poverty line. The report also included the amount of park and recreation space within each of 128 cities in the greater Los Angeles area.

Read more about the study here.

Other tidbits from the article:

  • Manhattan Beach, one of the most affluent cities in the South Bay had only 4 percent of children who meet the criteria for obesity. It also had one of the highest ratios of park area per capita - 5.7 acres per 1,000 residents.
  • The city of Lawndale had one of the lowest ratios of park space - 0.6 acres per 1,000 residents - and one of the highest child-obesity rates of 27 percent.Lawndale officials hope to double the city's park space next year with the opening of the half-acre Hopper Park on 162nd Street, and officials have set aside $1 million for the purchase of more land in the future.
  • The county has no formal authority over what cities do, but officials made several recommendations: Create walkable and bikable pathways, establish safe routes to schools so that parents don't have to drive children, and recognize efforts by groups that support healthy lifestyles. They also suggested limiting the number of fast food restaurants in specific areas, and have schools offer healthier lunches and creative physical education.

November 05, 2007 KaBOOM!

NBA Stepping Up to Help New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, LA - The National Basketball Association today will announce a season-long, leaguewide community service program aimed at boosting the rebuilding effort in New Orleans in a year when the league plans to hold its marquee event, the 2008 All-Star Game, in the city.

The official announcement is expected to be made by NBA Commissioner David Stern in a news conference at Walter L. Cohen High School at 12:30 p.m. today, the same day the Hornets tip off the 2007-2008 regular season with a game against the Sacramento Kings at the New Orleans Arena.

"This program says that we're very committed to helping them rebuild and to the rebirth of the Crescent City," said Bob Lanier, a special assistant to the NBA commissioner. "The NBA truly cares. It's not just a slogan. We're committed to being difference-makers around the world."

The program will culminate with the first NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service on Friday, Feb. 15, an event in which more than 2,500 members of the league's representatives, including players, coaches, executives, media members and sponsors, will participate in daylong community service activities. The event will help tip off All-Star weekend in the city. The NBA All-Star Game will be played at New Orleans Arena on Sunday, Feb. 17.


Bosses try new ways to skip misfit hires

By Ellen Simon
Boston Globe
November 5, 2007

NEW YORK --A resume and a brief job interview can't answer the question that matters most to a new hire's co-workers: Is this person an absolute pain?

Despite a labor shortage in many sectors, some employers are pickier than ever about whom they hire. Businesses in fields where jobs are highly coveted -- or just sound like fun -- are stepping up efforts to weed out people who might have the right credentials but the wrong personality.

Call it the "plays well with others" factor.

...

At KaBoom, a nonprofit that builds playgrounds, the board was hammering co-founder and CEO Darell Hammond four years ago over the organization's high employee turnover.

"I rationalized that they were on the road too much, when in reality, it was the wrong fit in the wrong role," he said.

He started thinking about who left and why, then focused on the characteristics of workers who stayed. The list of traits: Can do, will do, team fit, damn quick and damn smart.

His team kept a closer eye on job applicants in the reception area, which is set up as a playground, to see how they acted around playground equipment.

"If you're early, you may have to sit on a swing or the bottom of a slide," Hammond said. People who stand with a tight grip on their briefcases instead of sitting on the playground equipment aren't asked back.

...


All 2008 100 Best Communities for Young People Winners Eligible for Playground Prize

WASHINGTON, DC—KABOOM!, a national non-profit that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America, today announced at the America’s Promise Alliance’s (the Alliance) 100 Best Communities for Young People National Forum in Washington, DC that the two organizations will team together to give a brand new community-built playground—valued at $70,000—to one of the Alliance’s 2008 100 Best Communities for Young People (100 Best). To qualify for the new playground, communities must be named a 2008 100 Best and a 2008 Playful City USA as part of the KABOOM! National Campaign for Play.

“100 Best and Playful City USA both honor those American communities who are putting their young people first,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, president and CEO of the America’s Promise Alliance. “That’s why we’re pleased to partner with KaBOOM! to further reward one of these communities with a new playground because by providing a safe place for children to gather we are one step closer to helping them succeed.”

“At KaBOOM! we believe that a great community is one that makes children and time for play a priority,” said Darell Hammond, CEO and co-founder of KABOOM! "Through play, children not only get exercise but build character and learn how to work with others. By awarding one of the Alliance’s 100 Best communities a new playground we’re helping to make one of the best communities even better.”

100 Best is an annual competition where the Alliance with its partner Capital One, identify those 100 outstanding communities across America that are the best places for young people to live and grow up in. Playful City USA is a national recognition program honoring cities and towns across the nation that have created an agenda to bring play back into the lives of all their children.

The 2008 100 Best application process is open from August 1, 2007 through Friday November 2, 2007.

To learn more about the national search for the 100 Best Communities for Young People visit: www.americaspromise.org/100best. Applications for the 2008 Playful City USA program are available at: www.kaboom.org/playfulcityusa.

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About the America’s Promise Alliance
America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s leader in forging a strong and effective 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 on America’s Promise Alliance visit: www.americaspromise.org.

About KaBOOM!
KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit 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 1,300 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, CA. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.