Our First (and Hopefully Not Last!) KaBOOM! Playground Build

KaBOOM! Community Playground Build

Last weekend the kids and I had a chance to participate in our very first playground build with KaBOOM! I’ve always wanted to take part in a build, having partnered with KaBOOM! on a few other projects. I just love the work they do, and their passion for making play possible for all families, no matter where they live or how much they make.

My good friend Sacha helped connect me to this particular build, through her work with Foresters. Unfortunately we had a hectic Saturday, and could only help out for a small portion of the day.

When we arrived, the play structure was up and concrete was being poured. Other teams were building benches. Elena and I were assigned to “Team Mulch.” Have you ever moved a mountain of mulch? It’s not easy! I kept waiting for Elena to start complaining … she’s not one for manual labor! But she jumped right in. I could see her eyeing the group of teens doing some painting. They were making brightly colored signs for the playground. After she hauled a few loads of mulch, I encouraged her to see if her art skills could be of any use. She spent the rest of the time painting, and loved it.

KaBOOM! Community Playground Build painting signs

Eli was too young to work, but they offered a Kids Zone staffed by volunteers so you could help without having to worry about childcare. He was a little disappointed, though, as he really wanted to lend some muscles to the project. Before we left, I let him carry one last load of mulch with me so he could say he helped.

KaBOOM! Community Playground Build moving mulch

The coolest part, other than watching a playground take shape before your very eyes, was seeing people of all ages and walks of life participating in the build. If you’re as passionate about play as we are, I strongly encourage you to participate in your community.

KaBOOM! Community Playground Build Indianapolis

Even though we only helped for a couple of hours, it definitely made an impact on us. Not only do we have a strong desire to help out with another playground build, we feel inspired to spend more time volunteering in our community in general. Next month we’re planning to help out at Kids Against Hunger, and I hope this builds a tradition and commitment to volunteering as a family.

Have you ever participated in a KaBOOM! playground build, or a similar community playground project? Is your family committed to volunteering? If so, I’d love for you to share your experiences. I know myself, I’m inspired when I hear about other families with younger children making volunteer experiences a priority in their lives.


Playgrounds: Reinventing the Square (Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid)

playgrounds exhibit reina sofia

From the early days of The Risky Kids, I’ve been following along the Playscapes blog. I always enjoy seeing the playgrounds they feature from around the world. I usually file the information under “Things I’d Love To (But Probably Never Will) See.”

In May, Paige posted about an upcoming exhibit to be hosted by the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. Playgrounds: Reinventing the Square would be open during the same time we’d be visiting Madrid.

playgrounds reinventing the square

I probably should’ve explained the exhibit to the kids a little better … they we’re quite disappointed to discover that it wasn’t an exhibit of playgrounds they could actually play on. We did have one mortifying moment when they saw a wooden swing in one room and tried to sit on it, only to be yelled at by a museum employee. It was one of those parenting moments when you can see that something bad is about to go down, but you can’t get there fast enough! In their defense, there were other parts of the exhibit that were hands-on, and they couldn’t read the sign in Spanish that said not to touch (it was one of our first days in Spain … they quickly learned exactly what no tocar meant!)

adventure playground reina sofia exhibit

Not the installation my kids used as their own personal playground … but you get the idea.

Besides that particular incident, the exhibit was really interesting. I particularly enjoyed the photographs from Helen Levitt, taken in 1940s New York City, of children playing in the streets. Such a different time!

There was also a room full of original playground blueprints from famed architect Aldo van Eyck.

aldo van eyck playground blueprint

And look at this article from post-WWII England:

playgrounds reina sofia

Yes, we would like an anarchist playground!

adventure playground magazine reina sofia

While it was definitely more interesting for me than the kids, they did enjoy some of the hands-on pieces.

playgrounds exhibit madrid

I’d love to see more exhibits like this in art museums across the United States. I think it’s fascinating to see how playgrounds have evolved, and to ponder how we can reinvent the playground for this generation and beyond.


Tag! You’re It: The 2012 KaBOOM! Playground Challenge

KaBOOM! Playground Challenge 2012

Last year the kids and I had so much fun working with KaBOOM! on their Park-a-Day Challenge.  Thanks to the Challenge, we discovered this gem of a wooden playground (along with many others) just minutes from our house.

This year they’re at it again and The Risky Kids want you to do it right along with us.  The KaBOOM! 2012 Playground Challenge starts July 2nd.  Why the need for a playground challenge, you say?  Two things:

1.  A playground in and of itself isn’t necessarily exciting and fun.  It needs kids, and lots of them, to make it come alive.  Maybe you’re the playground expert in your community – the Challenge would be a great opportunity to share your knowledge of the shadiest spots and best slides in town.  Maybe you’ve never ventured beyond that one playground around the corner.  Here’s your chance to explore playgrounds with your kids and find some new favorites.

2.  KaBOOM! has an excellent resource in their Map of Play.  By accessing it online or via their mobile app, you can search for playgrounds wherever you are.  It’s functionality only increases with more participation, and that’s where you come in.  By visiting playgrounds in your community and either entering or updating information about them in the Map of Play, you help others find great places to play.  It also helps identify communities that need playspaces, so that KaBOOM! can continue their mission to provide places to play within walking distance of every child in America.

Here’s how the Challenge works:

  • Download KaBOOM!’s new mobile app, Tag! (available for both iPhone and Android).
  • You visit playgrounds!
  • Track and share your playground adventures using the app.  Each playground you share will be added to the Map of Play.

Did I mention prizes?  No Challenge is complete without prizes!

  • Each playground you visit and share via Tag! will earn you points and badges.
  • Every other week KaBOOM! will give you “mini-challenge” for a chance to earn prizes as you go.
  • When the challenge closes on August 13, the top 3 point and badge earners will each win a week-long trip for 2 to Washington, DC!

What are you waiting for? Let’s all get out there and play!