KaBoom! Let’s play! (guest post)

Evi2yrs 300x225 KaBoom! Lets play! (guest post)



None of us gets enough of it.

We run, we hurry, we stress. We don’t sleep enough. We feel pulled in ten thousand directions. Having a four year old has reminded me, a lot lately, how important it is sometimes to just stop.

Stop and PLAY!

Take life less seriously for a little while.

Be silly. Let go.

It does wonders for my mood and stress levels, and it leaves me with a happily exhausted little girl who never fails to amaze me with her imaginative play.

It’s good for us. It’s good for you too. That’s the nature of play. It’s mutually beneficial. And now that my job revolves around play, I’m learning a lot about what it can do, and even more about who needs more of it.

I work at KaBOOM!

KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

My specific job is working on our Map of Play. It’s a search tool for finding cool new playgrounds, but it’s also a way for us to track information about where playgrounds are located, who uses them, and what kind of shape they’re in. By doing that, we know a lot more about which kids don’t have access to safe playspaces, and we’re learning a lot about how that can impact them.

Some facts:

· Only one out of five children in the United States lives within walking distances of a park or playground. This statistic worsens in low-income neighborhoods (CDC, 2010).

· As levels of play have decreased, levels of obesity have skyrocketed; the prevalence of obesity in six to 11 year olds has more than tripled since the 1970s (Ogden, 2002).

· Free play gives children an outlet to express their emotions and feelings and helps them to develop a sense of who they are. (Santer and Griffiths, 2007).

So how do I help?

How do YOU help?

There’s a lot you can do.

If you have kids, get them outside every day. Get their bodies moving, their hearts pumping, their minds engaged in creating fantastic worlds defined by only their own imaginations. Let them set the rules. Stand back and watch magic happen.

If you want to make a bigger impact, make a change in a community, and help change the way people think about play, you can help improve the information KaBOOM! has about playgrounds, parks, and sports fields.

You can search on the Map of Play for a new playground.

Even better, you can check out the ones in your community. Add ratings and pictures to let us know which spaces need work. The information helps us understand where kids are in the most need, and that can make a big difference!

I’ve started adding playgrounds in my neighborhood to the mobile site with my iPhone, and I’m discovering a lot more than I thought I would. I’m noticing playgrounds I’ve passed one hundred times.

I’m taking the time to get out and play at new parks. I’m finding hidden gems all over, and some spaces that really need a loving intervention. Even better, my daughter and I spend a lot more time laughing.


Heather Hurd is a BLOGGER & the Map of Play Coordinator at KaBOOM!  She works to promote the importance of play through the mapping initiative, focuses on outreach/community relationships that help build awareness around the importance of healthy, happy, engaged children in our country. 


Never miss a post. Enter your email to get my latest posts delivered to your inbox.


  1. says

    It’s the best thing about our neighborhood, that we live across from a huge field, a creek, woods, the swimming pool, and the elementary school with its nice playground. If every kid were raised near an area like this, we’d have a healthier country.

    • cheryl says

      They aren’t. Don’t believe what you read-go to your local schools and observe, and if it IS true where you live DO something about it! (I coached a running group after school for seven years…)

      • says

        Certainly recess being removed is not a country-wide problem, but in a lot of places, particularly places that are struggling with meeting other educational goals, recess is being cut back or cut out to buy more classroom time.






        Fortunately, a response is happening in many communities with parents and community members pushing back to give kids time and space to just play.

        • cheryl says

          I grew up in the 50s and attended school in the 50s, 60s, 70s- I have often wondered when this “golden age” of P.E. occurred that everyone seems to think happened in all public schools across the nation. My husband grew up in California and it wasn’t happening there either. My parents made sure I rode my bike, walked, hiked, canoed, and swam-all recreationally as they could not afford classes for four of us.
          My point is why is it the SCHOOL’s responsibility to provide physical education? We now have to provide counseling, groups for LGBT youth, bullying classes, breakfast, lunch AND now after school snacks. Eyeglasses and dental screenings along with lists and lists of services for those who need special education. Glad it’s rebounding back to where the responsibility belonged in the first place…parents! (To feed them too!) So yeah, PE is one of the first things to “go” although I know teachers personally who STILL get organized physical activity into their schedules every day. No small feat when they are expected to teach all the subjects they do to kids who speak three different languages besides English, or have learning disabilities or emotionally messed up because their parents are meth-heads.
          But if you really want to help a BUNCH of kids besides your own, come join the party and be an educator. Going on 40 years of a much-loved career …..

  2. says

    Don’t tell anyone but when the kids are in bed and the neighbors can’t see I test out their trampoline. Purely as a safety measure to make sure everything is OK of course! Great fun!

  3. cheryl says

    Which is why I work with preschoolers…not a one in the bunch that DOESN’T want to run, jump, bike, scooter, climb, slide, crawl, roll, etc. etc. It’s instinctual for even the orthopedically impaired kiddos! Our school provides the equipment and the supervision…kids don’t need instruction to work out! They just DO IT!

  4. says

    Wow! I admire your group for spreading a good cause like this for the benefit of the children. I will definitely support you! Keep up the good work KaBOOM!:-)

  5. says

    That twirling thing in the pic. I remember them from back in the day. The playgrounds around me must be really lame, because I haven’t come across a twirling thing in ages. No fair!
    Oh, and seriously thinking about having a mini-playground installed in my backyard (for workout purposes). Serious.

  6. says

    This is why – even as an adult – it’s important to find something fun and active to do. Anything will work as long as it gets your heart rate up, makes you happy, and reduces your stress levels. For me that love is surfing. It requires strength, endurance, and it’s incredibly fun!

  7. says

    What an amazing company! As the mother of small children, I rely on our local playgrounds to allow my kids to run and be free. Life would be crazy if I we were not able to get outside and let some steam off.

  8. says

    What a cool job — and so important. My kids are older now but I am a firm believer in the importance of playgrounds and free, physical play. My current neighborhood does not have a playground, but the ones we lived in when our kids were younger did.

  9. says

    Carla – thanks so much for spreading the word! This is so important to me. I think there are some communities and families out there who’ve done an incredible job of keeping play as an important part of their lives, but too many kids are still losing out, usually thanks to not enough resources. That’s what I spend my work days trying to change.

  10. says

    Thanks for sharing, Heather. This is a nice info about KaBOOM. I will definitely support this cause. BTW, I also have children and they really enjoy the playground.

  11. says

    All reputable studies show that outdoor activities of most kind are healthy. Any time around grass and trees is beneficial. Parks are crucial to a community. Your service is awesome!

  12. says

    I LOVE KaBoom! and have been a bit fan of theirs for years. They are doing such great work. Play is such an important part of our kids lives and it’s so important to let kids do just that – play and to have safe places to play. Thanks Heather!

  13. says

    Most of my memorable experiences when I was a child were at the playground. I spend time there almost every after class in the afternoon together with my classmates. I usually go to the monkey bar. Anyway, I believe that we should let our children enjoy their childhood. I will support this KaBOOM! Thanks for sharing! :-D

  14. says

    Wow! What an awesome program, it’s hard to believe some kids don’t have a park to play at but we can change that!

  15. says

    As a country England is definitely getting larger. During the sixties and 1970′s pupils that attended school during those periods in the UK will probably all remember the one obese kid in the class? In fact most will tell you there one often just one fat kid in the whole school. Today around twenty five percent of kids in every class are probably over weight by far too much than is considered as a healthy weight.