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KaBOOM! is the national non-profit organization that empowers communities to build playgrounds. KaBOOM! passionately believes that play has purpose, and that unstructured play in particular helps make children happier, fitter, smarter, more socially adept and creative. Darell Hammond, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of KaBOOM! studied with Jody Kretzmann of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute when he was in college, and the principles of ABCD became the foundation of the KaBOOM! community-build model.

The KaBOOM! Theory of Change is built on the belief that the process of organizing a Community Build playspace is as important to a community as the playspace itself. Three pillars support this theory and together help KaBOOM! activate citizens in powerful ways:

  • The collective cause of children’s well being enables a diverse group of volunteers to use their individual skills toward the collaborative goal of building a playspace in one day.
  • The achievable wins represented by the many steps in building a playspace encourages community residents to believe they can individually and collectively make a difference.
  • Cascading steps of courage lead to ever greater acts of courage. A leading factor that causes people to take courageous action to benefit others is the presence of small, civically minded steps early in life that help shape personal values and, over time, progress to greater civically minded acts.

KaBOOM! engages two levers to eliminate obstacles that reduce children’s opportunities for play: creating the actual places where children can play and activating community leadership toward improving the health and well being of children and communities. The LEAD and SEED/Challenge Grant strategies are organized around the Community Build playspace process, which is designed to produce both a new local playspace and a stronger and more engaged community capable of taking action on other important local issues.

In 2009, its 14th anniversary year, KaBOOM! has worked with business and community interests to construct more than 1,500 playgrounds, skareparks, sports fields, and ice rinks across North America. KaBOOM! still works with the Asset-Based Community Development Institute, which completed an evaluation of its playground work in 2008; KaBOOM! and ABCD are currently identifying future research on the value of the KaBOOM! model in building a safe place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

If you've never been part of a Community Build, visit KaBOOM! to learn more, and take advantage of opportunities in your community to participate. ​