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KaBOOM! Community Builds


Dissemination Category: KaBoom! Community Builds is an emerging intervention based on its use of evidence-based strategies. Developed in practice, it shows promise but evidence in support of effectiveness is not yet available.

Intent of the intervention: KaBOOM! is a national non-profit that empowers communities to build playgrounds and playspaces for youth. KaBOOM! programs focus on creating great places to play while activating community leaders, all with the goal of improving the health of children and the health of communities .  The two primary means of building playspaces are through 1) KABOOM!-led builds, which are facilitated by a KaBOOM! Project Manager, and 2) “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) Playground Builds, that include provision of online resources, such as on demand and live trainings, a toolkit with fundraising, planning, construction and maintenance guides, and a free website to help users plan and build a playspace in their community. 

Intended Population: KaBOOM! primary stakeholders are parents and concerned community members who work through the community-build model convening around the common cause of serving the intended population of 2-12 year olds by improving or building  new playspaces for them. 

Setting(s): Communities, Elementary Schools, Childcare Facilities, Child-Serving Nonprofits

Background:  The vision of KaBOOM! is: A great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

KaBOOM! completed its first community-built playspace in 1995 in Washington, DC.  They became incorporated in 1996 and currently all fifty states, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Canada have KaBOOM! playspaces.

A community-build playspace is one where volunteers come together to build a playspace that involves the community in the design, construction, and maintenance of the playspace.  KaBOOM! has directly facilitated the building of more than 2,000 playspaces through the KaBOOM!-led build program and inspired the building of over 3,000 playgrounds through Do-It-Yourself  projects, utilizing grants, training, online tools, and publications throughout North America. KaBOOM! has developed a step-by-step process called the Community-Build Model in the years since its inception in 1995.  KaBOOM! provides access to this information at no cost for anyone interested in completing a community-build playground.

Each community build takes place, in partnership, with a local child-serving nonprofit, school or parks and recreation department. The planning process is outlined in the KaBOOM! Roadmap (see Intervention Materials). There are primarily two different methods of using the KaBOOM! Community-Build Model.

  • KaBOOM!-led Builds, which include on the ground leadership of a KaBOOM! Project Manager and community involvement at all stages of planning, development, and building of the playspace.  Each KaBOOM!-led playground project is primarily funded (90%) by a specific Funding Partner, typically a corporation or foundation, who often partners with the local community during the planning and building process.  Once a Funding Partner has committed to building a playground in a specific geography, KaBOOM! does outreach to identify a local community-based child-serving organization that partners with KaBOOM! and the funder on every aspect of planning. This group, called the Community Partner, is also responsible for fundraising a portion of the cost of the playground equipment purchase.  The Community Partner must own or have a long-term lease and obtain written permission from the land-owner for the community-build project.  Children who will benefit from the playspace are actively engaged in designing their ‘dream playground’ via a “Design Day” event held during the planning phase of the process.  This phase is approximately 12 weeks long.  During that time, the Community Partner planning committee works with a KaBOOM! Project Manager to map the assets of their community and leverage those assets to plan their community build day.  A broad range of community members volunteer to support the planning process, which culminates in a one-day community volunteer event to build the playspace.
  • Do-It-Yourself Builds, include free online training, planning tools, and advice from professional playground builders at KaBOOM! to help interested communities lead their own community build. The intent of the Do-It-Yourself model is to meet communities at their current level and provide them with a proven model and tools at no cost.  Communities can follow the Roadmap step-by-step or they can move around and use the pieces that are most relevant to them. KaBOOM! is able to support these free resources through the generous donations of both individual donors and organizational funding partners.

The KaBOOM! Community-Build Model shows steady and increasing growth with a high demand from communities throughout the country for related support and services.  The tools, resources, peer-to-peer mentoring, and technology (i.e. online and in-person trainings) for do-it-yourself playspace builds are currently the focus of the program expansion.

Length of time in the field: The intervention has been in the field since October 1995