KABOOM! and Partners Win UNICEF Cities Inspire Award for San Francisco Playspace Link copied!

November 19, 2021

Washington D.C.

KABOOM!, the national non-profit focused on ending playspace inequity for good, and its partners were awarded the UNICEF Cities Inspire Award for the recently unveiled, kid-designed Nature Exploration Area at Heron’s Head Park along the San Francisco waterfront. The awards were announced ahead of World Children’s Day, observed annually on November 20, and recognize innovative projects across the globe that ‘foster child rights at the local level and improve the daily lives of children and young people in the cities and communities where they live’.

The Nature Exploration Area is a 12,000-square-foot playspace that encourages people of all ages to creatively engage with natural elements like logs, stumps, and boulders. The project promotes equitable access to outdoor play and nature in an area of San Francisco that has experienced chronic disinvestment and expands the role of Heron’s Head Park as an environmental education hub for youth. The Nature Exploration Area was recognized by UNICEF in the Safe, Clean, Sustainable and Child-Friendly Environments category.

“KABOOM! is honored by this recognition. We thank UNICEF and its partners for their commitment to amplifying projects that benefit the world’s youth, a task that has taken on new urgency with the COVID-19 pandemic. All the nominees and winners demonstrate that when we come together to put kids at the center of our circle of care, and when we listen to and invest in their dreams, amazing outcomes are possible.” said Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!.

Research shows that play and exposure to nature are vital for children’s emotional, social, and physical health. However, access to both are too often correlated with race and economic status. The Nature Exploration Area is located within a 22-acre wetland park in San Francisco’s historically underserved Bayview Hunter’s Point community, where residents are predominantly people of color. A recent survey of 108 community youth nearby found that 23% rarely visit nature, underscoring both a need and opportunity to connect kids with the outdoors and environmental education.

The space was designed with input from five “Design Jam” events where more than 100 kids and other residents shared their unique ideas and desires for the space.

The Nature Exploration Area project was a collaboration between KABOOM! and a range of partners, including: Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, Kaiser Permanente, the Port of San Francisco, San Francisco Children and Nature, and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.