As we look back on 2012, continue our work in 2013, and look ahead to 2014 and beyond, it is clear we have a lot to be proud of. It is also clear that we must do more. As this report goes to print, we are taking a hard look at what we are doing and how we are doing it. Why? Because kids are not getting the balance of active play they need to thrive.
2012 marked another significant year for KaBOOM!. As we continued to work toward our vision of a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America, we focused our efforts on building, opening, and improving 2,704 playgrounds for children in need.
We served 1,643,505 children in 2012. We enlisted the help of 52,317 volunteers and empowered citizens to build, open, or improve their own playgrounds by awarding $2.9 million in grants to 624 people or organizations.
To identify Play Deserts—neighborhoods that are child-rich but playground-poor—we have ramped up our crowd-sourced playground mapping efforts as we work toward assessing the current location and condition of each and every playground in the country. It’s an ambitious goal, but we are making significant progress, and now have a total of 93,538 playgrounds mapped.
Our efforts to map playgrounds and bring more local play opportunities to the kids who need it most rely on close collaboration with both local grassroots advocates and city leaders. In 2012, KaBOOM! recognized a record 213 cities as Playful City USA communities for making a significant commitment to play by developing tailored local action plans that increase access to play in their community.
We contributed to the national conversation around the importance of play with the paperback release of The New York Times bestselling KaBOOM!: A Movement to Save Play, and the publication of Go Out and Play!, our book of outdoor games which has enjoyed strong sales and interest since its launch in spring 2012.
Of these accomplishments, we should be proud. But we must do even more to solve the problem on the scale that it exists.
Active play is absolutely critical to children’s health, success, and well-being; many children lack the time and space to play—at home, in their schools, and in their neighborhoods. The Play Deficit touches children across the economic spectrum, but it disproportionately affects 16 million children living in poverty, who are missing out on vital opportunities for physical, social, and cognitive growth.
We are taking a hard look at what we are doing and how we are doing it. Why? Because play is disappearing and it is having a profound effect on our children. Kids spend too much time in front of screens and recess is disappearing. What’s more, in neighborhoods without a park or playground, the incidence of childhood obesity increases 26%. The impact is huge: rising childhood obesity rates, declining academic performance, growing behavioral issues, and increasing incidences of depression.
We must do more to ensure that every child has the opportunity to play actively every day. Playful children, families, and communities make for happy, healthy and successful children, families and communities.
In order to realize the kind of change we want to bring about, it’s going to multiple levers being pulled at the same time. Every single advocate – from our National Partners, who help sustain our overall efforts, to our Supporting Partners, Community Build Funding Partners, Community Partners, individual donors, parent and community activists, and Playful City USA communities – is an integral part of our mission to bring play to children who need it most.
Your support has helped get us this far. We thank you and look forward to continuing to join forces to elevate this vital work, and give kids everywhere the childhood they deserve.
Founder & CEO