KABOOM! Launches Playspace Mapping Program in Colorado Link copied!

December 20, 2021

Washington D.C.

Today, KABOOM!, the national nonprofit committed to ending playspace inequity, in partnership with The Colorado Health Foundation, researchers and community members, announced a new community-informed research effort to map playspace inequity in three Colorado communities. The 18-month program aims to inform and catalyze investments to close racial and economic gaps in access to quality spaces for play. Steering committees composed of community leaders from each of the three regions will guide the program, ensuring that local perspectives inform its desired outcomes, measures, and data sources.

Decades of research have shown that play is a central factor in determining the course of a child’s health and development, meaning that communities who have trouble accessing play are systematically disadvantaged. Playspaces provide kids and families with opportunities for outdoor physical activity, which studies demonstrate can reduce stress and improve overall health and well-being. But research also suggests that Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, as well as low-income communities, have fewer quality playspaces where they live and learn.

The first phase of the program will gather data on the location and quality of existing playspaces in the East Colfax Corridor, Otero County, and Rio Grande County. We will then overlay racial, economic, and public health data to create community profiles for each region that outline key learnings and actionable recommendations. This mapping work will be done in partnership with a team of researchers from North Carolina State University lead by Dr. J. Aaron Hipp, an Associate Professor of Community Health and Sustainability and Associate Director of NC State’s Center for Geospatial Analytics.

“To achieve playspace equity we must fully diagnose it with a process that is informed by data and driven by the community,” said Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!. “Each community is unique, and our hope is that this program will serve as a model for uncovering the systemic barriers that keep kids from accessing the play they need to grow and thrive, especially in places that have faced racialized disinvestment.”

The profiles will include any patterns of playspace inequity identified through the data analysis process, as well as opportunities for closing gaps and ideas for enhancing the value of existing playspaces in each community. Residents and local groups will also contribute qualitative data on playground usage, quality, and access through Streetwyze, an interactive data collection and analytics platform.

“We are proud to partner with KABOOM!, researchers and community partners on this critically important work to more deeply understand the playspace inequities that Colorado children and families face,” said Jehan Benton-Clark, Senior Director of Advancing Equity and Justice at The Colorado Health Foundation. “By understanding the racial and economic gaps in playspaces, we can better work to close those gaps with practical solutions that prioritize the health and well-being of Coloradans of color and those living on low income.”

Many cities across the U.S. do not have a data-informed understanding of the availability and quality of playspaces across their municipal systems. Without this data, it’s difficult for local leaders to understand what the gaps in access to quality playspaces are, and how those gaps align to patterns of continued disinvestment and disparate outcomes in health, resiliency, and learning for kids of color.

The program builds on nearly a decade of work to address playspace inequity in Colorado. During that time, KABOOM! has partnered with The Colorado Health Foundation to engage more than 2,700 Coloradans in the design, planning and building of 25 playspaces that are now used by more than 30,000 children annually. Our community partners for these projects include municipal park and recreation systems, school districts, and nonprofit organizations.

KABOOM!: Kevin Paul | 202-464-6168 | [email protected]