Research confirms that play is a developmental necessity that sparks kids’ social, emotional, and physical development. Play also builds resilience and enhances learning.
Yet, too many cities, school districts, park systems, and neighborhoods face inequitable access to dedicated spaces that are intentionally designed to spark these outcomes for kids, especially in communities of color.
That's why we help communities build spaces for kids to play.
That's why we work to end playspace inequity.
We believe in the power of community to unify, heal, and rebuild, and they lie at the heart of our work and mission. By emphasizing trust and collaboration, we aim to ensure that each KABOOM! playground addresses community-defined outcomes and playspace inequity on the neighborhood level, contributing to a stronger, more cohesive community in the long-term.
We do this by working hand-in-hand with a community's kids and adults to design, plan, and then build a new community playspace.
KABOOM! has unmatched expertise in playspace infrastructure, informed by the experience from 25+ years and 17,000+ building or improving playspaces that were community-designed, and developing technical and strategic partnerships to engage communities.
That community engagement is key to our process. Community engagement is about building relationships, fostering trust, and creating collaboration between KABOOM! and the people that will design, plan, build, and long-term, maintain the playspace — our Community Partners.
By building trust and collaborating with our Community Partners, together we create playgrounds and playspaces that create long-lasting benefits, including:
Our model of community engagement fosters cohesion, pride, and leadership capacity. It leads to the community's increased usage of a playspace and their vested interest in the long-term maintenance of the playspace.
Most importantly, it creates an amazing place for kids and families to play.
KABOOM! ensures each playspace we build leads to community-defined outcomes. To do that, we've designed an engagement process which puts community members in a position of power and centers their priorities, assets, needs, and desires.
We utilize a community-engagement model defined by four phases.
In the Activation phase, we recruit the diverse voices who will help to shape the new playspace. We also learn more about the partner community, build relationships with community members, and generate buzz about the new playground. We listen. We learn. We center the community's voice in all matters.
In this phase, through the new partnership created, we – KABOOM! and the community – start making designs and plans. Our process catalyzes community-driven decision-making, and we co-host a Design Day.
Design Day is a special meeting where we ask the kids that'll use the future playspace to draw their "dream playground". Together with our adult partners, we pour over the kids' refrigerator worthy works of art to pick the equipment that best matches those dreams.
Here's a Design Day in action.
The Activation, Design + Plan phases culminates in a celebratory and fun Build, hosted by the community and a KABOOM! Community Build Manager.
Community volunteers team-up with professional installers, funding partner volunteers, and KABOOM! to dig holes, pour concrete, hang swings, build benches, and move dozens of cubic yards of safety surfacing.
Making the playspace perfect can take anywhere from 8 hours to 4 days — every community's Build is different, and they can change depending on the final playground design or the community's goals for the playspace.
But the outcome is the same: an amazing new place for kids to play.
Our partnership with a community doesn't end once the shovels are put away and the concrete is dry. We continue working within the community to develop programming or events for the new playspace and to promote the community’s ongoing sense of belonging and ownership of the new space.
This includes establishing plans for ongoing programming, fundraising, and maintenance, as well as conducting a post-build evaluation.
KABOOM! fosters strong partnerships at the local, national, and regional levels across sectors — including with foundations, corporations, municipalities, city leaders, schools, parks, housing, youth and community serving organizations — to direct resources to communities that lack access to quality playspaces.
Learn about the different kinds of partnerships we form to create real-world impact in the lives of kids and their communities.
Our work is community-driven; which means that our projects seek to build trusting relationships, center community voices, and engage diverse stakeholders. We do this by working hand-in-hand with your kids and adults to design, plan for, and build your community playspace.
Learn about our grant opportunities and how you can become a KABOOM! Community Partner.