KaBOOM! News • page 111

Volunteers, Nascar Drivers Build South Charlotte Playground
Dropping the green flag to fun outdoors
By Steven Brown
Charlotte Observer

In the morning there was bare ground, and by afternoon, south Charlotte children had a new place to play.

About 500 volunteers spent Wednesday building a playground at the Kennedy Campus of Elon Homes for Children. It was the 31st playground -- and first in Charlotte -- built by Racing to Play, a program sponsored by Home Depot, the NASCAR Foundation, Joe Gibbs Racing and KaBOOM!, a nationwide organization that creates places where children can play near their homes.


The construction crew included NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Johnny Sauter; former racer Rusty Wallace; and Craftsman Truck Series drivers Stacy Compton, Brian Scott, Scott Lagasse Jr., Sean Murphy and Colin Braun. Stopping work to sign autographs, Stewart said the new playground offers children more than recreation. "They'll build social skills and relationships that will last a lifetime," Stewart said.


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Drivers build playground from NASCAR Day funds
Fifth annual celebration to be held Friday with telethon
By Bill Kimm
May 15, 2008

There is something about the sound of children playing on a brand-new playground that just brings a smile to people's faces, and that's just one of the many projects funded by fans purchasing a $5 NASCAR Day pin.

NASCAR Day is celebrating "five years of caring" on Friday with the annual NASCAR Day telethon, with proceeds going to the NASCAR Foundation. There are two different ways to contribute: You can buy a NASCAR Day pin for $5, or you can call 1-888-MAY-16TH to make a donation.

Last year, the NASCAR Day event raised $1.64 million, and on Wednesday at the Elon School for Kids in Charlotte, N.C., Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Rusty Wallace, Johnny Sauter, NASCAR president Mike Helton, Home Depot, KaBOOM and more than 500 volunteers built a brand-new playground made possible by funds raised on NASCAR Day.

"It's exciting and fulfilling to come down and help the kids," Biffle said. "There's all kinds of volunteers that put these playgrounds together, so it's pretty exciting to be a party of this.

"It certainly gives the kids something to do, and all kids need playgrounds. [The drivers] were talking earlier, we all had a chance to go and play when we were growing up, and you don't think about it, but some kids don't have that opportunity. So it feels great to create that opportunity for some kids.


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May 14, 2008 KaBOOM!

What is Evos?

The recent playground build in Marietta, Ga. (the 1,000th Home Depot/KaBOOM! build in 1,000 days) featured some new and unique play equipment you might not be familiar with: Evos™.

The equipment is produced by Landscape Structures, who describe Evos™ like so:

Evos™ playstructures offer almost endless physical, mental and creative challenges. Kids love deciding how to play on equipment they've never seen before. They can't get enough of the suspended play events and bouncy Corocord® climbing cables, which build upper-body strength and core strength as kids balance and counterbalance their bodies against the forces of gravity.

Learn more Evos™ here.

As we say at KaBOOM!, "it starts with a playground." Here are some of the amazing things that can happen after the cement dries.

Julio Salcedo, site director for Lytle Creek Park, in San Bernadino, Calif. shared with KaBOOM! the amazing ripple effects brought about by their playground build on March 29 as part of the Cesar Chavez Day of Service.

  • The plots in the community garden created on Build Day have all been adopted by families, who have planted a variety of vegetables and fruit trees.
  • The teenagers involved in the build have formed a community service club, and they take care of the plants around the center and are working on creating a walking path in the area.
  • Attendance at the community center near the playground is off the charts! They used to feed lunch to 25 kids a day, and now they have to order 70 lunches each day for the kids. They used to serve 40 to 50 people visit on an average day, and now the numbers are closer to 120.
  • Even more amazingly, the very first Lytle Creek Community Association meeting is scheduled to take place on May 21, and will include reps from the sheriff's department, code enforcement, health and human services, and animal services.

An Invitation to Child's Play: Big Blocks and Wheelbarrows
Published: May 4, 2008
New York Times

It is the playground of the future, already in beta mode in New York City and coming soon to empty lots, day care centers and even suburban backyards across the country.

Instead of monkey bars and jungle gyms, there are blue and white blocks to stack into high walls or to connect as sluices and walkways.

In place of swing sets and seesaws, there are wheelbarrows and rolling carts to move materials about.

And while there are still the familiar elements of sand and water, they are no longer there to be shoveled and splashed so much as turned into landscapes of fanciful design.

The idea began with the architect David Rockwell's desire to create a more engaging play space for his children — and others — on a parking lot near the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan. Construction of that playground is to begin in July. But the concept has expanded to include portable collections of Mr. Rockwell's play gear that can be used in playgrounds around the city, starting with one in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn this summer.

Next, Mr. Rockwell plans to bring his novel approach to cities around the nation through a partnership with the nonprofit playground developer Kaboom.

"Play is on the decline in the United States, and frankly, kids' creativity is on the decline in the United States," said Darell Hammond, the founder of Kaboom, which is working with Mr. Rockwell to manufacture and distribute the custom-designed loose parts, which experts say encourage more imaginative, child-directed play than fixed structures do. "We're betting our future on this concept, that this concept is going to — in generations or decades — make better kids."


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By Darell Hammond
KaBOOM! CEO and Co-Founder

When we started KaBOOM! in 1995, I could never have imagined that we'd be partnering with CaliforniaVolunteers for the second year in a row to create ten amazing playspaces throughout the State of California in honor of César Chávez. I am so honored to be a part of this program. It holds a special significance to me because it serves to unite communities and stress the importance of service by highlighting the values of one of the nation's foremost leaders in civil rights.

"Sí se puede," or, "Yes, it can be done" are the words that Chávez used to fuel the passion of his fight, promoting idealism, hope and a strong belief in equality for all. This message of empowerment was carried throughout each build, instilling in volunteers a drive to strengthen their community by working together to build a great new place for local youth to play.

We kicked off the program at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust with 340 eager volunteers ready to build one of the largest playground projects that KaBOOM! has ever led. This was a tremendous kick-off to a program that produced nine playgrounds and one skatepark, requiring 136 tons of concrete, 2,290 cubic yards of Engineered Wood Fiber and 109 gallons of paint!

Here at KaBOOM! we say that it only take a single spark to start a fire. At each build this ethos was brought to life with the traditional United Farm Workers' clap – a tradition started to demonstrate solidarity and unity. Slow and singular claps quickened, growing louder as more claps joined in unison, soon becoming a roar that motivated crowds of volunteers, providing them with a great momentum to push them through the day.

As Linscott Charter School parent, Karen Lowell, noted, "the soul of the day wasn't in the building details; it was in the people." Throughout the program, KaBOOM! was joined by 11 Chavez Family members, 15 California Volunteers Build Captains and 3,542 volunteers – an astounding turnout!

The 2008 KaBOOM! César Chávez Playground Build program proved to be a monumental homage to a great leader, as well as a moving example of how KaBOOM! helps strengthen communities by empowering them to build playgrounds.

Thanks again to First Lady Maria Shriver whose incredible dedication to this program truly reflected her vision and commitment to service. Special thanks to all who joined us to donate their sweat, passion and laughter to a great program we hope to continue for many years to come.

Sí se puede!

The 100th Operation Playground project got off to a great start with a Design Day on Apr. 28 in Bay St. Louis, Miss. More than 25 playground experts ages three to 16 eagerly put crayon to paper to share their ideas for the new playground to be built at Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Park. The children's drawings, along with input from parents and other community members, will be used to create the final playground design.

Following the children's portion, more than 30 adults from the community met to learn about the KaBOOM! planning process and sign up for committees responsible for construction, food, safety, youth involvement, and volunteer recruitment. The enthusiastic group also established the planning committee's weekly meeting time and created their own ‘wish list' of items for the new playground to be constructed on June 14.

Partners for this special build are the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Fannie Mae, the Foundation for the Mid South, the Hancock Housing Resource Center and the City of Bay St. Louis.

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation is the administrator of the Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund, which was established by Governor Barbour days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. This project is one of 17 that will be completed in the lower six counties this year using funds from the Hurricane Recovery Fund. Fannie Mae and the Foundation for the Mid South are also providing matching funds for each project. The Hancock Housing Resource Center (HRRC) is an initiative of the Hancock Community Development Foundation. The main role of the HHRC is to find ways to address housing needs in Hancock County.

"A major part of developing housing is community participation," said Sherry-Lea Bloodworth, Director of the Hancock Housing Resource Center. "What better way to build close community ties than through a KaBOOM! playground build? I can't think of a better way to stimulate community participation and reinvigorate weary residents as we continue to rebuild. After all, the KaBOOM! process not only builds playgrounds, it brings communities together. We are so thrilled to be partners for the KaBOOM! 100th playground."

The first Operation Playground project took place on December 17, 2005 at Carol Vegas Park in Bay St. Louis. More than 600 volunteers gathered on that day to help build the first new playground in the Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita devastated the landscape. Since then, KaBOOM! and our partners have built 95 playgrounds in towns from Houston to Mobile, bringing play back to the lives of children living in these areas and giving neighbors old and new the chance to build a sense of community lost in the storms.

While KaBOOM! will continue to build in the Gulf after the 100th playground, this important milestone will allow us to celebrate our success with friends, draw attention to the ongoing needs of those living in the Gulf and remind people about the importance of having safe and fun places children can play.

Cherokee volunteers make KaBOOM! history
Monday, April 28, 2008
Mississippi Press

PASCAGOULA -- More than 300 volunteers showed up on the campus of Cherokee Elementary Friday morning to build the Ka-BOOM! playground, and the 8-hour workday was cut in half.

As the sun rose over the campus, activity had already begun with volunteers digging holes, moving mulch and building benches.

Justin Fitzgerald, Ka-BOOM! project manager, was amazed with the volunteer turnout and energy.

"This turnout is just amazing and so is the energy being displayed," Fitzgerald said. "I just had 145 cubic yards of mulch moved in less than an hour. That never happens. We are better than on schedule."


Working alongside Fitzgerald was Sarah Pinsky, director of Operation Playground. She agreed with Fitzgerald saying that even early in the morning, this was one of the fastest builds ever.

"It's not just the number of volunteers who came out today, but how hard everybody is working," Pinsky said. "We have had a lot of people come out for builds before but never to move as quickly as these are doing."


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Hundreds of volunteers from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Jackson and George Counties, Fannie Mae, the Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund, organizers from KaBOOM! and community members will join forces on Saturday, Apr. 19 to build a new, safe playground at the Mary Ruddiman's Unit in Ocean Springs, Miss.

This new playground's design is based on drawings provided by children who attended a Design Day event in February, and will provide more than 300 children in the community a safe place to play. Currently, there are no public playgrounds near the site.

This playground marks the first of more than 15 playspaces to be built by KaBOOM!, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Fannie Mae in 2008. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation is the administrator of the Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund, which was established by the governor immediately following Hurricane Katrina. Fannie Mae began its partnership with KaBOOM! in 2007, and together we built eight playspaces in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The build also stands as the 90th as part of Operation Playground – the KaBOOM! initiative to build 100 playgrounds in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Academy Of Country Music and The Home Depot select country music group Rascal Flatts to receive Humanitarian Award

Award to be presented during the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards to air live from MGM Grand in Las Vegas Sunday, May 18 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS

ENCINO, Calif. (April 17, 2008) – The Academy of Country Music and The Home Depot announced today that multi-platinum country music group Rascal Flatts will be the 2008 recipient of the Academy of Country Music/The Home Depot Humanitarian Award, to be presented during the 43rd Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards ceremony honoring country music's best and hottest emerging talent. The show will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 8:00 PM live ET/delayed PT on the CBS Television Network.

In its seventh year, the Humanitarian Award recognizes country music artists who serve others, have a generous spirit and help build the dreams of those in need. The members of Rascal Flatts – Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney – were selected by a special blue-ribbon committee comprised of executives in the country music industry as well as local and national philanthropic leaders for their ongoing community service and charitable giving of their time and talent.

"We have been blessed with some incredible successes in our career the past couple of years," said Rooney. "The most rewarding thing for us is the opportunity to give back to our communities. We'd like to thank The Home Depot and the Academy for recognizing us in such a humbling way."

As the recipient of the Humanitarian Award, Rascal Flatts will receive a beautiful crystal trophy designed by Tiffany & Co. during the live CBS telecast. They will also be honored with a playground donated by The Home Depot and the Company's national nonprofit partner KaBOOM!, which envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. The playground will be built by The Home Depot volunteers and community members in the city of Rascal Flatts choice. Past recipients of the Humanitarian Award include Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Lonestar, Martina McBride, Neal McCoy and Reba McEntire.

"The Humanitarian Award embodies the kind of giving spirit that the Academy strives to foster within the industry," said Bob Romeo, executive director of the Academy of Country Music. "The selfless giving to others by artists like Rascal Flatts helps bring that spirit to life, and makes us so proud to be part of the country music community."

"Philanthropy and giving back are embedded in The Home Depot culture and are at the core of the Humanitarian Award," said John Ross, vice president of advertising for The Home Depot. "The members of Rascal Flatts show a true dedication to charitable giving and community service and exemplify the values represented by both The Home Depot and the Academy of Country Music. We are proud to recognize them for their contributions and impact on improving our local communities."

The Recipients
Rascal Flatts is a multi-platinum selling vocal group whose current album "Still Feels Good" was one of Billboard's largest country album debuts of 2007. The band has become a major supporter of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, a non-profit teaching and research hospital in Nashville that provides a place to hope and a place to heal for children and their families. The hospital is ranked as one of the 10 best children's hospitals and is in the top 10 for pediatric cancer care in the nation, offering comprehensive services to more than 100,000 patients each year. Rascal Flatts has donated more than $2.2 million of the proceeds from their Nashville concerts to the hospital, spearheading the largest fundraising donation in the hospital's history in addition to hosting a Disney-themed party and concert for the children every year. They are also involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation ® and the Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet.

The Home Depot
The Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer, with 2,257 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces, Mexico and China. In fiscal 2007, The Home Depot had sales of $77.3 billion and earnings from continuing operations of $4.2 billion. The Company employs more than 300,000 associates. 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.

About The Academy Of Country Music Awards
The 43rd Academy Of Country Music Awards is dedicated to honoring and showcasing the biggest names and emerging talent in the country music industry. The show is produced for television by Dick Clark Productions and will be broadcast LIVE from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 8:00 PM live ET/delayed PT on the CBS Television Network. The show is executive produced by R.A. Clark, and produced by Barry Adelman. The executive in charge of production is Bob Bardo.

For more information on the Academy Of Country Music and the Academy Of Country Music Awards, please visit www.acmcountry.com.

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