What do you get when you add 225 community volunteers, one giant pile of mulch, an eight hour day, a swing-set, and the goal of changing a child’s life? A KaBOOM! build of course!
What’s that? You haven’t heard of KaBOOM? They are a non-profit dedicated to saving play for America’s children. And if you are KaBOOM! you have:
- helped community members build 2,000 playgrounds
- created play spaces for 756,250 children
- worked with 39,281 volunteers, and
- designated 151 places as “playful cities USA”
Wow! I’ve been fortunate to work with KaBOOM! on two of those incredible builds. One was for my children’s elementary school and our build provided a playground for not only the students who attend our school, but for the larger community as well. And just recently I worked aside 225 community members on creating and building a playground, as well as a community garden for our recently refurbished and revitalized local Boys & Girls Club. After two months of planning, with a playground envisioned and designed by the children who utilize the club, we put together
- five raised garden beds
- a gazebo with picnic benches
- a brick paved pathway
- an outdoor classroom, and
- a playground
No complaining, lots of music and even a momentary dance party at the end of the build celebrating our accomplishment. And that’s the beauty of a community build. People from all different backgrounds, from different neighborhoods, coming together for a singular goal: to put play into a child’s day. But the philosophy behind KaBOOM! isn’t just about providing grant opportunities to help fund a playground build (although they do that), it’s about understanding how essential the process of play is in a child’s life. How recess or free-play helps:
- foster a stronger sense of self
- encourages creativity
- promotes communication
- create collaborative solution solving situations
- with physical fitness opportunities
It’s more than the one-day build. It’s about respecting the children in our community and recognizing that they are the now of our community, not just the future. A build is about sustainability, about recognizing what we need to do to help everyone thrive, not just survive. It isn’t about a physical swing – it’s about building confidence, character, and connections. It’s about putting play into a child’s day so they know that they matter. And when they grow up, they will want to make a difference as well.
KaBOOM! is more than a playground – it’s a movement. Join in, put your game face on, and go play!