I first heard of KaBOOM! a few years ago, when I began the San Jose Parks Foundation. The nonprofit works to ensure kids get the play they need to become healthy and successful adults. KaBOOM! elevates the conversation about the importance of play in children’s lives, while also creating great spaces.
In August 1995, 24-year-old Darell Hammond read about two children who suffocated while playing in an abandoned car because they didn’t have anywhere else to play. A veteran City Year organizer, Darell experienced a call to action and led the construction of the first playground in Washington, D.C. A year later, this passion became the organization called KaBOOM!
Since that time KaBOOM! has helped build more than 2,400 playgrounds across North America, several of which are in the South Bay. Yet, the need for more is clear. Child obesity is a national crisis.
Play is a powerful thing. It has the ability to transform children from sedentary and bored individuals to a physically, mentally, and socially active group. KaBOOM! inspires and encourages people to take action for play in their own communities. The success of the program is due to a well-tested formula of (1) finding a community in need; (2) finding a sponsor; (3) having a nonprofit host; and (4) working with a committed volunteer group to do the actual construction. The playground is then built in about six hours!
A gentleman named Ken Pyle called me about eight weeks ago to set this incredible process in motion, and the result should be a new playground.
Pyle is co-founder of Viodi, LLC, and managing editor of the Viodi View and Producer of ViodiTV. He comes from a Valley family that settled here in the 1840s. He and his wife are raising two sons, and Pyle has been active in the community, most recently with the Moreland Little League.
His home is located in a neighborhood that sorely needs amenities for kids, including an accessible playground. Hearing about KaBOOM!, Pyle began the task of organizing neighborhood parents and looking for a site near Payne and Winchester. He contacted KaBOOM! and learned of their mutual interest. But he needed help.
Pyle called me and the next thing I knew, we were discussing how to make the playground happen. After numerous scouting trips and conversations in the community, Pueblo de Dios, in San Jose, offered land for the new playground, which will serve the surrounding community.
KaBOOM! Put us in contact with the Sharks Foundation, the official charity arm of the San Jose Sharks, which will provide most of the funding for the project. The Pueblo de Dios Community Group, led by Pyle, will recruit a few dozen neighborhood volunteers (including children) to design the park in January and about a hundred to build the park in March. San Jose Parks Foundation will also work with the Pueblo de Dios Community Group to raise about $10,000 for the community portion of the costs.
James P. Reber is the executive director of San Jose Parks Foundation, a veteran nonprofit entrepreneur and experienced special event planner and producer. He can be reached at [email protected] or 408.893.PARK.