Playground Partnerships: Unlocking the Potential of Parks

September 27, 2023

KABOOM! recently partnered with with The City of Hamtramck, Hamtramck Public Schools, and Hamtramck Parks Conservancy, and General Motors Factory Zero to increase play in Hamtramck.

In the United States, cities have an average of 15% of their land available for green space and outdoor active play. Hamtramck is an exception. With only 2.6% of the City’s land dedicated to parks, Hamtramck ranks among the cities with the least amount of green space. This means kids in the city have almost no place to play outside, limiting their ability to enjoy the essence of childhood and all the benefits play can provide.

To address this need, the revitalization of Veterans Park has become a priority for the community. With support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the City, and community leaders, The Hamtramck Recreation District Plan aimed to convert an underutilized 26-acre recreation area into a vibrant park with updated amenities and expanded recreational activities. KABOOM! was honored to partner with The City of Hamtramck, Hamtramck Public Schools, and Hamtramck Parks Conservancy to build a kid-designed playspace in Veterans Park as part of this plan. This build also brought together The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), The Center for Health Disparities Innovations and Studies at Eastern Michigan University, educators, kids, and 200+ volunteers, all working together to create something meaningful and needed by the community.

Another unique aspect of this build included the involvement of General Motors Factory Zero. Located in Hamtramck, General Motors Factory Zero employees not only showed up to volunteer to build the playground but were an important part of the planning process, helping KABOOM! build relationships with city leaders and scouting locations for the playground. Along with the Wilson Foundation, who we’ve worked closely with on past projects in the region, General Motors Factory Zero’s involvement helped KABOOM! understand the scale of playspace inequity in Hamtramck.

While volunteers were wrapping up the last day of build week, KABOOM! Senior Strategist Carrie Leovy noticed a few new faces. Kids in the neighborhood began riding their bikes and walking over to the park to catch glimpses of their new playground. Some had stopped by every day that week in anticipation of the playground’s opening day, which welcomed more than 100 kids.

It was ambitious to build a large-scale playground in a city with limited park space, and to team up with so many partners while prioritizing community voices. But thanks to the ambition of the community and our partners in the area, kids in Hamtramck have a new place to play, enjoy the outdoors, and experience a sense of belonging.