National Non-Profit KaBOOM! Championing the Cause to Save Play Link copied!

May 17, 2010

Washington, D.C.

There is no easy way to say this: play is in peril. Play is quickly disappearing from the lives of children across the United States. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any other generation[1] and instead spend an average of 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen.[2] Lack of play is directly linked to increased childhood obesity—one of the main issues facing younger generations today.[3]  Last week the White House Childhood Obesity Task Force issued a report with recommendations on how to “solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.” Physical activity and play—especially outdoor play—were cited as key elements in the fight against obesity.

 “Play is a fundamental need for healthy children and communities. It’s unthinkable to let play perish, and we applaud this administration for recognizing the importance of play as a major factor to reduce serious problems like childhood obesity,” said Darell Hammond, CEO of KaBOOM!  “It’s critical that individuals, companies and civic leaders come together to plan ahead and build suitable play spaces for children within their neighborhoods.  Play is inherently active and is a long-term, preventative measure for obesity. We want to help restore a culture of play so that playing—and being active—is a natural part of our children’s daily lives.” 

The impact of the play deficit on our children and future generations is unacceptable.  In addition to contributing to obesity, lack of play is linked to classroom behavior problems, including violence, emotional outbursts and the inability to properly interact with others.[4] Lack of play is also linked to a decrease in creativity, imagination, problem-solving skills and resiliency.[5]  The task force report addresses the importance of play by emphasizing the need for the following:

  • Regularly scheduled recess periods
  • More outdoor recreation
  • Increased access to nature play
  • Safe and accessible parks and playgrounds, particularly in underserved and low-income communities
  • Joint-use agreements between local governments and community sites for indoor and outdoor recreation
  • Technology to engage children in physical activity

KaBOOM!, ( the national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play, is catalyzing a national movement to save children’s right to play. “Organizations like KaBOOM! are necessary not just to the health of our children, but to the health of the entire nation,” said First Lady Michelle Obama in a speech at a KaBOOM! playground build in San Francisco, CA. June 2009.

Restoring a Culture of Play

For the past 14 years, KaBOOM! has been engaging communities; creating dialogue; and providing tools, training and resources in an effort to save play. KaBOOM! is working to solve the problem and restore a culture of play by:

 1. Constructing innovative, kid-inspired playspaces, using a community-build model that improves the well-being of children as well as the neighborhoods in which they live.

  • KaBOOM!  has not only given nearly 3.5 million children a great place to play through hallmark playground builds and Do-It-Yourself online tools, but the organization continues to innovate—creating playspaces that entice children to play longer and come back more often.  Its latest project called Imagination Playground™ is in partnership with architect David Rockwell and delivers a “playground in a box” which goes beyond the standard playground and challenges children to construct their own playspace.  The flagship installation will open in New York City this summer.
  • KaBOOM! has built more than 1,750 playgrounds in low-income communities, helping to transform thousands of neighborhoods across the U.S. and bring under-served communities together to build new playgrounds.
  • KaBOOM! has also inspired, engaged and deployed more than 201,300 volunteers in communities across the U.S.

2. Using the internet to scale their efforts, sharing the knowledge and tools needed for anyone to find, improve and build playgrounds on their own.

  • KaBOOM! rejected the “local chapter” growth approach favored by many non-profit organizations to scale its model, and instead is using the internet to disseminate its model and openly share everything the organization has learned about building play spaces for free.
  • KaBOOM!, a pioneer non-profit organization in this regard, is empowering local communities to take action in their own neighborhoods and build their own playgrounds by giving people free resources and guidelines via the KaBOOM! website.
  • In 2009, the online outreach efforts of KaBOOM! helped people build more than 1,600 do-it-yourself (DIY) playgrounds in communities around the U.S.—almost as many as the nonprofit has assembled directly during the past 14 years. Today, local communities build 10 KaBOOM!-influenced playgrounds for each one KaBOOM! builds itself.

3. Building a broad movement driven by research, analysis, policy and community engagement.

  • In 2007, KaBOOM! launched the Playful City USA recognition program, which honors the efforts of cities who create a city-wide agenda on play. The now 93 founding Playful City USA communities represent both small and large cities across the nation who shared their ideas and innovations on how to make every city more playful.
  • KaBOOM! has led changes at the municipal level through “Play Matters”—an innovative and critical study of best practices to inform local policy in support of children’s play.
  • On a national level, the organization is working with the White House in support of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative, and with elected officials through KaBOOM!-led design day events and Play Days, which are essential for involving community members in the planning and creation of neighborhood play spaces.
  • “At KaBOOM! we build connections and social capital in the neighborhoods we touch, so that newly empowered groups go on to solve problems such as lack of play opportunities and other issues facing our children today,” added Hammond. “As a goal for 2010, KaBOOM! is working to give one million children access to a great place to play this year, and we invite communities, civic leaders and companies to join us in our efforts.” 

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Hwang, [email protected] , 415.420.3259
Dana Young, [email protected], 415.378.7998

[1] Journal of Community Health, 2008
[2] Richard Louv – Last Child in the Woods
[3] Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005
[4, 5] American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007