KaBoom Playgrounds

Sep. 24, 2015

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Building playgrounds in underserved areas helps give kids a safe place to play

“I’m not sure who was having more fun at our KaBoom playground — the kids or the moms.”

So says Linda Leather, director of The Next Door, a recovery center for women in Nashville where a KaBoom playground was installed in June.

She’s been thrilled to see the impact that an on-site play space has on her clients and their children.

Everyone gets moving, playing together, bonding and socializing with others.

The equipment arrived via KaBoom, a national nonprofit whose slogan is “Play Matters.”

Their mission is to give underserved kids more opportunities to run around, use their imagination, and just have fun.

When KaBoom signs on to deliver a playground, it gets lots of community input:

  • Kids are asked to describe their dream playground.
  • Then the adults come into the picture, offering their own priorities for the space.
  • KaBoom returns with three proposed designs to pick from.
  • Once one is chosen, those same people who helped plan it then help build it.

“Our community build process leads to a feeling of ownership,” says Shay Thompson, director of corporate sponsorships for KaBoom.

“It encourages regular use and upkeep. We intend to be a catalyst for change in that community and that won’t happen with someone who plops down a playground and leaves.”

One of the primary concerns among the women of The Next Door was that the playground appeal to a range of ages so no child would be left out.

In addition to a dragon-themed slide and monkey bars for younger kids, there’s a rock climbing wall and tetherball for the older ones.

“Part of the value of our work is reframing play for families,” says Thomson.

“We have seen that the playgrounds also get adults up and moving, families playing together, and community members interacting.”


Read more about the programs helping kids get healthy in Tennessee here.


Photos by Jeff Frazier.