KABOOM!, the pioneers of community-built play spaces, began as one man’s determination to build a playground for a community that had no safe place to play. Seeing a real need for play spaces that were accessible to all, Darrell Hammond organized volunteers to install a playground in four days! That was the impetus for the first playground built in partnership with a community, and in direct response to their needs. Today KABOOM!, a national nonprofit organization, is actively engaged in ending play space inequity for good by providing play spaces with access and a sense of belonging to everyone in the community.
First, new project locations are identified by in house research and in cooperation with corporate and foundational partners. Communities are also able to apply directly to KABOOM! for a grant. https://kaboom.org/grants/community-built Once a community’s eligibility has been confirmed, they meet with KABOOM! and the funding partner to establish deadlines, plan community fundraising and begin KABOOM!’s four phase model. The entire process, from the match with a community partner to build day is usually only an astonishing 3 months! https://kaboom.org/community-built
Phase 1 – Activation
The community and KABOOM! engage in discussions to learn about the communities wishes for the new play space. This phase encourages as much community involvement as possible. It sets the groundwork for community ownership of the play space and helps generate excitement about the process and the end result. This phase usually lasts one month.
Phase 2 – Design & Planning
This phase lets the community and especially the children’s imaginations run wild. Kaboom hosts a design day where children are given huge sheets of paper and are encouraged to draw their dream playground. From these drawings, and community discussions held during the Activation phase, two playground designs are drawn up and shared with the community for their feedback. Once the final design has been approved, the build phase begins. https://youtu.be/0vqXz5XqCNc
Phase 3 - Build
The build phase is typically done in four days. Before the final day, deliveries are made of the playground equipment and playground surfacing. Professional playground installers are used to dig the post holes and to set the posts for the play equipment. The final build day brings together 20-25 volunteers from the community to help install the equipment and the playground surfacing.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, a typical build day could have had as many as two hundred enthusiastic volunteers onsite. Pandemic protocols and safety measures changed this model out of necessity, but KABOOM! is hoping to be able to go back to it in the future. It is their belief that the more a community engages in the project, the more it gives rise to a sense of ownership and belonging. Installing the playground borders and wheelchair access ramp, laying the FibarFelt drainage membrane, which acts as a weed barrier, and installing the many cubic yards of Fibar® engineered wood fiber are great ways for the volunteers to pitch in.
At the end of the final build day, a ribbon cutting ceremony is performed and the playground is officially turned over to the community.
Phase 4 - Maintenance
Plans are made for future programing of events and to plan for maintenance of the space. KABOOM!’s ongoing mission is to provide play spaces so that children everywhere can fully experience the physical, social, and emotional health benefits of play. The Fibar Group is incredibly happy to be able to support this mission with our full line of playground surfacing and surfacing components. www.fibar.com
All photos courtesy of our friends at Kaboom.