Putting Kids First: The sustainable impact of KaBOOM! 10 Years after Katrina Link copied!

April 28, 2015

Washington, D.C.

As the 10 year anniversary of Katrina approaches, KaBOOM! – the national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids the childhood they deserve filled with balanced and active play – will recognize the importance of putting kids first and the impact the organization and its funders have had in more than 170 communities devastated by the storm.

Since 2005, KaBOOM! and its partners have invested $21.4 million and built 194 playspaces across the region that continue to serve close to 300,000 kids. To see the impact KaBOOM! and its partners had in the region, please visit: kaboom.org/operation_playground#impact

The first playground build took place on December 17, 2005 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, just one hundred days after Hurricane Katrina. One week after construction, residents spent Christmas Day at the playground, grilling holiday dinners and watching their kids have fun. In many areas in the Gulf Coast, the playground was the first permanent structure to be rebuilt and today, that park still acts as a central hub and community-gathering place for all – more than 90% of the playgrounds KaBOOM! and its partners built with the community are still open and in good condition today.

“When we set out to build our first playground after Katrina, many believed it was too early and people needed to get back on their feet first. Play just wasn’t a priority at the time so we decided to take a risk and invest our own resources to put the needs of kids first,” KaBOOM! Founder and CEO Darell Hammond said. “The support from the community was remarkable. More than 600 engaged, caring adults showed up to transform an empty lot into a family-friendly playspace that united and strengthened a community torn by disaster.”

To commemorate and reflect on 10 years of progress since Hurricane Katrina, KaBOOM! has planned several playground builds across the Gulf states that will run from April through August. On April 18, KaBOOM! kicked off these efforts with a playground build and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans. The ceremony highlighted one of their Founding National partners, Foresters, an international financial services provider, for their exceptional commitment to bring play to communities and enhance the well-being of families in the region. This was the 27th playground Foresters has built with KaBOOM! in the Gulf states in the aftermath of Katrina and over its 15-year lifespan, will serve more than 18,900 kids and their families. The partners who stepped up to support the organization’s commitment in the region such as Foresters, The Home Depot Foundation, Motorola, ING Direct, Starbucks, Marriott, Fannie Mae, NBA Cares, continue to invest in the region to this day.

“In a way, you can say we never left,” said Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO of KaBOOM!. “We went in to help kids deal with the atrocities of Hurricane Katrina but we stayed to ensure those kids still have access to the balanced and active play they need to thrive.”

The organizational risk KaBOOM! took in order to prioritize the needs of kids impacted by this disaster continues to this day. Cities and towns in the Gulf Coast, along with leaders from every sector were inspired by the bold work KaBOOM! was championing. By the end of 2014, fifteen cities impacted by Hurricane Katrina were recognized as Playful City USA communities. These cities understand the competitive advantage of putting kids first and making play a priority for all kids.

For more information on KaBOOM!, its Katrina 10th anniversary efforts, or to speak with Darell Hammond, please call 212-528-1691, or email Erin Curtis, [email protected], or Joe Giumarra, [email protected].

Follow the KaBOOM! 10 year retrospective of Hurricane Katrina at: kaboom.org/operation_playground.