Responding to COVID-19
The mission of KABOOM! is more relevant than ever: we amplify the power of communities to build inspiring playspaces that spark unlimited opportunities for every kid, everywhere.
Under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, that relevancy has transformed into urgency. As we work together with communities to help them endure and recover from this crisis, our ultimate goal stands: achieving playspace equity, so that every kid has an incredible place to play close to where they live and learn.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply disrupted the lives of kids across America. They’ve been removed from their routines, schools, family members, friends, and playgrounds, the building block of any childhood . And as we’ve all witnessed during previous times of crisis, this pandemic is exacerbating the inequities that countless communities already experience.
We can't let these kids and communities get left behind — again — when the recovery phase begins.
Playspace Equity is Critical to Crisis Recovery
In many communities, kids won't have a playground to go back to once this crisis is over. We know the power a playspace can have on a community recovering from any crisis — especially ones that the pandemic is compounding now.
Families are facing dire stressors: illnesses. Job losses. Food and housing insecurities. Vital support systems have been removed and already strained resources are being stretched to the breaking point. All these challenges create an environment where kids can't just be kids. The "business" of childhood is at risk, as well as the bright futures we strive to build for all our kids.
Communities are going to need safe ways to connect and every kids needs a place where they can be a kid. KABOOM! playspaces — and the process to create them — can serve as the connection point around this common purpose. We must stop the playspace inequities that already exist from becoming even deeper long term.
How KABOOM! Continues to Build and Prioritize Equitable Playspaces for Every Kid
Under typical circumstances, KABOOM! would be teaming up with hundreds of partners and communities, and thousands of volunteers, to build incredible places to play this year.
This isn't a typical year.
But even in our new reality, our commitment to ending playspace inequity hasn't wavered. We are rewriting our own playbook, so that we can continue to address disparities in access to playspaces during this pandemic and beyond. Parks, playgrounds, playspaces are still critical, valuable staples of childhood.
To keep moving playspace equity forward, we've developed a three-phased approach:
KABOOM! is collaborating with school districts and community partners to provide kids and families with "At-Home Playground Design Kits" and rethinking every aspect of our community-build model.
Tracking the Reopening
Equipping city, municipal and community leaders with expert guidelines and data to ensure the re-opening of playspaces is done safely and swiftly is critical.
The communities that are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are the same communities that often lack access to quality playspaces due to historic disinvestment.
Some kids have access to a yard or driveway where they play outdoor games safely. This isn't the case for the millions of kids living in under-resourced communities and dense, urban spaces.
We've started deploying KABOOM! At-Home Playground Design Kits to kids in communities that don't have these available, open spaces for play.
Each kit includes items such as sidewalk chalk, pipe cleaners, crayons, coloring pages, origami play activities, and play prompts. The kits promote physical activity and stimulate creativity. Together, with school districts and community leaders, we've begun to safely construct and distribute these kits to kids. It's not safe for them to be on a playground, so we're bringing play to them.
We're also working with our partners to explore every solution to continue building playspaces safely. We've already begun holding virtual Design Day meetings to capture the needs of community partners. With our funding partners, we're looking at every viable option, including limiting volunteers or professional installations, to keep our commitments to every community, every kid that needs a playspace.
Even the way existing playspaces reopen is an equity issue, as communities with resources will be able to open quickly and effectively. Our goal is to equip city, municipal and community leaders with expert guidelines and data to ensure the re-opening of playspaces is done safely and swiftly.
Kids and families can't afford to have playspaces and recreational opportunities de-prioritized and delayed under a cloud uncertainty or misinformation.
To that end, KABOOM! is convening a task force of public health experts, playground manufacturing leaders, and our peer nonprofit allies to develop the guidelines to support the safe re-opening of our communities' playgrounds.
With the counsel and leadership of the task force, KABOOM! will publish the guidelines for anyone to use, so that when the time comes, those administering playgrounds can use them to re-open and re-program their playspaces safely. We're also tracking playground closures and re-openings across the nation, and will soon publish our research on a public, interactive map.
Long-term Community Resiliency
The communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are the same communities who often lack access to quality places to play due to historic disinvestment. To address the long-term COVID-19 recovery, KABOOM! is building a movement to drive federal and private funding toward public infrastructure investments.
Together, with peer nonprofits, municipalities, and expert in the public infrastructure sector, we plan to assess kids' access to playspaces in systems across the nation. With data in-hand, we'll broker public-private partnerships to address playspace inequity at the scale it exists — across school, housing, and parks systems.
But what does the future of playgrounds even look like, considering a public health crisis? That's why we are also innovating new ways to support health outcomes in playspace design and installation. Similarly to when we brought together leading experts to develop the Play Everywhere playspace concept, we'll convene some of the best minds in public health and playspace design to determine what the next playground can look like, and then ensure those concepts are installed in the communities hardest hit by COVID-19.