Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Saint Paul Parks Conservancy, UnitedHealthcare, Sierra and KABOOM! Unveil Kid-Designed Playground at Dunning Park Link copied!

October 16, 2023

Saint Paul, MN

Today, kids in the Rondo neighborhood of Saint Paul, MN are celebrating as the community debuts a kid-designed, community-built playground at Dunning Recreation Center. The months-long collaboration between Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Saint Paul Parks Conservancy, UnitedHealthcare, Sierra, and KABOOM! culminated this week as volunteers built the new playspace that will spark joy and foster a sense of belonging for around 1,300 kids each year.

The new playground at Dunning Recreation Center is part of a nationwide effort led by KABOOM! to end playspace inequity – the reality that far too many children – especially children of color – do not get the chance to play on a playground, something that should be part of every child’s life. In August, kids in the Rondo neighborhood shared drawings of their dream playspaces with project organizers. These ideas were integrated into the new playground design. As an official Playce Partner in KABOOM!’s 25 in 5 Initiative to End Playspace Inequity, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy are leading an ambitious plan to invest $7.5 million to address gaps in access to quality places to play in communities that disproportionately lack resources and to help achieve the City’s goal to make Saint Paul a city that works for all. The playground at Dunning Recreation Center is the first of 18 playspaces that will be renovated or newly built in Saint Paul through the partnership with KABOOM!.

Saint Paul Parks and Recreation believes that all kids deserve spaces where students can play together, develop social skills, and be creative. As the champion of Saint Paul’s award-winning park system, the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy carries out Saint Paul’s vision of equitable access to active lifestyles, vibrant places, and a vital environment. Together with KABOOM!, these committed partners will help drive resources for quality playspaces to the kids and communities that are too often denied opportunities to thrive.

“Playgrounds are an iconic part of childhood where kids collect some of their best memories and experience the countless physical and mental health benefits of play,” said Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!. “KABOOM! is thrilled to kick-off our 25 in 5 partnership with Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy at Dunning Park, the Mayor’s childhood park and beloved place to play. We are committed to ensuring every neighborhood in Saint Paul is designed for every kid to have a happy and healthy childhood.”

Playing is the essence of childhood and is a critical developmental need that provides countless physical, social, and mental health benefits. However, far too many children, especially in communities of color, do not have a place to play near where they live or learn. The new playground designed with the neighborhood’s unique needs and aspirations in mind, brings Saint Paul one step closer toward ending playspace inequity and ensuring that every kid has the opportunity to experience the joys and benefits of play.

The playspace at Dunning Recreation Center was made possible by support from Sierra and UnitedHealthcare. With nine store locations throughout the Saint Paul and Minneapolis area, Sierra is committed to encouraging outdoor play in the communities they serve. As part of UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to help people live healthier lives, the new playspace at Dunning Park is an opportunity to give back to the communities where their employees work and live.

“Sierra is excited to get the Saint Paul community up and active, making it more accessible with this build!” Says Sierra Assistant Vice President of Marketing Elisa Pouliot. “With nine stores throughout Minneapolis, we are committed to giving back to this community. This is our fifth year partnering with KABOOM! and we are still amazed at every playground built.”

“We know staying active improves health outcomes. That’s why we’re excited to collaborate with KABOOM and the City of St. Paul on this new play space to provide youth, parents, and their families with a safe space to gather and play,” said Brett Edelson, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Minnesota.