A preternaturally warm Spring has descended on the Tri-State area. The daffodils have come and gone already. The cherry tree in our backyard has bloomed, shed it’s blooms and donned it’s summer coat of green a full two weeks earlier than last year. Opening Day is tomorrow and the sages at The Weather Channel promise 60 degrees and clouds but no rain, a marked improvement over last years parade, which marched by under a slate grey sky past crowds of shivering reds fans.
Spring means that it’s time to pry the Hellions away from the TV and the family’s collection of iDevices and thrust them outside, where they can benefit from the enriching experience of skinned knees, bountiful amounts of dirt, the occasional dog and or cat and or coyote and or spider, and all of the wonders and adventure of potential trips to the emergency room.
Whilst we here at Hellions World HQ have been blessed with a modest backyard and a lovingly hand built slide and swingset, there is no replacement in my opinion for a great playground. Not only do playgrounds provide a wider variety of ways for your lovely children to break bones, acquire the need for stitches, or perhaps get that concussion they’ve been putting off, good neighborhood playgrounds can become the social center for the entire community, providing a space for birthday party’s, “playdates”, neighborhood BBQ’s and holiday celebrations.
Don’t know where your closest playground is? Well the good people at KABOOM are here to help. KABOOM is a national nonprofit dedicated to… well… PLAY. I’ll let them speak for themselves, from their “about” page.
Our mission is to create great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities. Ultimately, we envision a place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
They exist to fight what they call the “Play Deficit”, the fact that our children are playing less than previous generations, and we are seeing the results in terms of childhood obesity rates, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity, anxiety disorders and depression, and a variety of other social ills. Now as a Skeptic parent it’s certainly normal to be…well… skeptical of anyone claiming to provide a panacea to all of our problems. That being said, everyone I’ve encountered in the organization has been a top notch advocate for children and they promote an enthusiasm towards community building that I personally find refreshing in these strange times we live in wherein a candidate for president can say with a straight face that poor schoolkids could benefit from doing the janitorial work at their schools (in the stead of union janitors, whose kids would then join the ranks of poor schoolkids).
KABOOM’s website is a treasure trove of information on playspaces around the country, including a great playspace finder and a mobile app for the iPhone. (Those of you weirdo’s out there who use Android devices need not worry, the Android app is in Beta as we speak.)
Encouraging our kids to play outside with other kids is one of the best things we can do to promote healthy happy childhoods for them. We’re very lucky to live in a community here in Cincinnati with an active Parks Department at both the city and county level. Reading KABOOM’s section about “Play Desert’s” sent a chill down my spine. If your family lives in one of those community’s, then KABOOM is there to help. If you are lucky enough to not need their help, then consider how you can help them, KABOOM is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity and one of the Non-Profit Times “Best Non-Profits to Work For” for 2011. So maybe consider adding them to your charitable giving?
Now I gotta go kick the Grommit outside… it’s gorgeous today!
(crossposted at Raising Hellions)