Only 1-in-5 children live within walking distance of a park or playground. That means 15 million children do not have the opportunity to regularly get out and play. Yet, we know that play is critical to helping a child develop physically, socially and cognitively. The KaBOOM! strategy to close the gap between the kids who have a place to play and those who do not is three-pronged: building, mapping and advocating. In 2011, we saw significant progress in each area.
We enlisted 39,281 volunteers to help us build playgrounds for 280,884 children in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In addition, we trained 17,330 people with our online tools, resulting in 1,233 do-it-yourself playgrounds built, improved or opened. 2011 also saw the growth and further impact of KaBOOM! grants as we awarded $2.6 million worth of financial assistance to 510 people or organizations building, improving and opening playspaces.
KaBOOM! knows we cannot fully address the Play Deficit until we have a complete understanding of where the playgrounds are – and more importantly, where they are not. That is why we have invested time and resources into mapping the state of play. In 2011 we released our mobile app, Playgrounds!, which was downloaded by 11,969 people, contributing to the more than 89,445 records on our nationwide Map of Play.
But we aren’t the only ones who are taking action for play. KaBOOM! recognized 151 cities as Playful City USA communities for making significant commitments to play through a variety of activities including hosting play days, sprucing up their existing playgrounds and prioritizing play on a policy level.
We also saw more recognition that play is worth fighting for. Studies were released showing further proof that play is an important part of growing up. More people and organizations spoke out for play. And in a show of great public support, KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play debuted at #4 on The New York Times Bestseller list.
What does all this mean? Our movement to save play really picked up steam, and is growing.
One thing is clear: we cannot do it alone. Every single supporter – from our National Partners who help sustain our overall efforts, to individual donors and community activists – has a role to play in combating the Play Deficit. 2011 was a year of celebration of all of your efforts to save play. The celebration was deserved, but now we must continue to accelerate and deepen our impact. We must go further, faster to give our kids the environment they deserve and in which they can thrive.
Founder & CEO