Baltimore’s Brooklyn Neighborhood Leads Community Change with Partners in an Effort to Create More Equitable Play Opportunities for Local Kids Link copied!

May 13, 2019

Washington, D.C.

Brooklyn community members are partnering with KaBOOM!, the Baltimore Children & Youth Fund (BCYF) funded by the City of Baltimore, the Greater Baybrook Alliance Under Armour and the Fund for Educational Excellence to build a kid-designed, state-of-the-art playground at Maree G. Farring Elementary Middle School. The new playground will help make play the easy choice for kids and families in the Brooklyn area of Baltimore, a neighborhood that has experienced decades of disinvestment that led to inequitable access to play. This new space also answers an urgent need after the nearby playground at Garrett Park burned down in March, leaving kids with no place to play within the neighborhood.

Schools should be a place where kids can learn, be safe, grow and just be kids. However, many schools and surrounding communities have experienced chronic disinvestment and, as a result, are challenged by issues such as high poverty, homelessness and violence. These and other circumstances often make it more challenging for kids to learn the crucial social, emotional, cognitive, creative and physical skills they need to be successful students and future adults, skills that are developed on the playground. Working with community members and the City of Baltimore, KaBOOM! is leveraging significant funding from BCYF to show kids that they matter by addressing their critical need to play.

Play is at the center of childhood – it helps to promote physical, creative, cognitive, social and emotional development for kids. But far too often, play is hard to come by for many kids because their communities have faced inequitable investment as a result of race, zip code or family income. Farring Elementary Middle School is one of the most diverse schools in Baltimore, with the population almost evenly split between African-American, Latinx and White students. Parent engagement in the school is strong, with parents and community members committed to taking action to create a better future for their kids.

“Before the new playground, there were no resources for the kids,” said Alicia Liphart, president of the Farring EMS PTO. “This new playground will provide a special place just for the kids to enjoy, where they can play and feel safe in their community.”

KaBOOM! has long worked with communities across Baltimore neighborhoods that have experienced disinvestment to create great, safe places to play. KaBOOM! significantly increased its efforts in Baltimore after the civic unrest following Freddie Gray’s death in 2015. Since then, KaBOOM! has partnered with more than 50 community-based organizations and city agencies to help improve outcomes for kids in the city. And while community-driven progress has been made, there’s still a need for continued local investment to address the unmet need for more equitable access to playspaces for kids in Baltimore

“Play is not a luxury, but an essential part of childhood that helps kids grow up happy, healthy and resilient. Every kid in Baltimore deserves a great place to play where they live and learn. It is unconscionable that elementary students in the wealthiest country in the world go to schools that don’t have great, safe playgrounds,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. “With funding from the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund, we are able to partner locally to address this urgent need, so that Baltimore kids who are too often overlooked have the opportunity to play and just be kids.”

This the first playground project supported by BCYF, a fund designed to support Baltimore’s kids, youth and young adults. This new playground was also made possible by Under Armour, which provided funding toward the playground equipment for the project.

KaBOOM! will continue to work with the City of Baltimore this year, with support from the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund, to help ensure there is more equitable access to great, safe places to play for kids throughout Baltimore.


Maree G. Farring Elementary Middle School

Eryn Lessard | (585) 314-7202 | [email protected]


Tamara Grider | 202-464-6196 | [email protected]