Michelle Obama Helps KaBOOM! Build Playground

Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, a fact that is having disastrous consequences on their health, achievement levels, and overall well-being.

To fight this Play Deficit, social entrepreneur Darell Hammond founded non-profit KaBOOM! 15 years ago in Washington, D.C. with a vision of creating a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

First Lady Michelle Obama joined more than 500 volunteers to celebrate building the 2,000th playground in the history of KaBOOM! on Wednesday at a Washington, D.C. elementary school as part of The Congressional Day of Service Event. The 2,000th KaBOOM! build took place at Imagine Southeast Public Charter School.

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The First Lady, Members of Congress, volunteers from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and hundreds of volunteers from the Southeast Washington, D.C. community built the new 4,000 square foot playground in less than eight hours to celebrate the 2,000th playground build by non-profit KaBOOM!, which is celebrating its 15th birthday in 2011.

Meanwhile, in an effort to motivate families and their children to get outside more often and re-connect with nature, the USDA Forest Service and the Ad Council have launched new public service advertisements. (Read: Ads to Connect Families and Kids with Nature)

“I’ve known and worked with KaBOOM! long before being First Lady,” said Obama. “To see this organization grow as it has, impacting so many communities, so many schools, so many young people, it is really a source of pride to be here today to celebrate the 2,000th build. I’m really proud of Darell (Hammond), I’m proud of everyone at KaBOOM! because it takes thousands and thousands of people to do what they all do all over the country.”

KaBOOM! is dedicated to saving play for children and has raised more than $200 million to support the cause since 1996. In that time, KaBOOM! has directly led the construction of 2,000 playspaces across North America that collectively serve 5,501,334 children.

“For 15 years, KaBOOM! has fought the Play Deficit among children and the participation of the First Lady and members of Congress in this playground project validates the notion we have firmly believed since our inception, which is that every child deserves a great place to play,” said Hammond.

The 2,000th KaBOOM! build was made possible by Knight Foundation, which has invested $1.4 million in KaBOOM! to build 14 playgrounds across the U.S. with KaBOOM! in the last two years.

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Rakesh Raman