Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie wrote -
When I was a kid, there was no place I'd rather be on the playground than on the swingset. I can still remember the excitement of Mom or Dad giving me a push, me pumping my little legs to go ever higher, feeling the relief of the breeze on those hot Arizona days and the rush of, for a moment, getting closer to touching the sky. When I think about it now, and remember that sensation of being light, I recognize it as the feeling and essence of childhood itself.
There are too many kids who don't know that feeling. They're burdened by concerns beyond their years, absorbing the stress of parents working hard to make ends meet, living in towns where the grayness of the world is all too apparent in empty lots and boarded up buildings. They live in neighborhoods where there is no place to play, where it may not even be safe to run around outside on the sidewalk. They dont know the simple joy of exploring and laughing and being free.
We want to make this better. And we are starting in a town called Passaic in New Jersey. It is a community with great need, yes, but also with promise and hope and commitment. Together, we are designing and building a lovely place for families to meet and children to play. Right now, it's big open field that doesn't look like much. I first saw it on a cold, dreary day with the grass yellowed from winter and still soggy with remnants of yet another winter snowstorm. But I looked around and I saw spring: I saw hope and potential and excitement in the faces of the kids and parents who came and promised to help us build something wonderful, lively and inspiring. It is just one playground in one town. But for these families, it is much, much more. And maybe we'll all just be getting started.
You can walk down a street past a playground 100 times and never take notice. And what you may see as mundane, kids see as opportunity. They see as a chance to invent, a chance to run and giggle and laugh. I see neighborhoods that are desolate and broken, where there isn't a place for kids to go out and blow off a little steam. I want to do something that brings joy to kids who have too little of it. I want to go to a neighborhood where people don't have a lot. And I want to take what is perhaps an eyesore or empty space and I wanna get a community motivated, out of their homes and rolling up their sleeves. I want the children to inspire us and tell us what their dreams are for this space. After it has been transformed into something amazing, I want to be there as we swing open that gate for the first time to see their reactions. If they are done right playgrounds are places where kids' imaginations and bodies can soar. Why shouldn't every kid have the opportunity to have something like that. Please help us give children everywhere a safe place to play.
Far too many of today's kids, especially those growing up in poverty, are not getting the balanced and active play they need to thrive because they do not have a safe and accessible place to play. These are the very challenges the kids and families living in the inner city community of Passaic, NJ, face every day.
That is why KaBOOM! and Today are working together to help give the more than 33,000 kids in Passaic the play-filled childhood they deserve. Together, we will build a brand new play space transforming an empty field into a vibrant family-friendly city center for play. The new playground will provide a safe and accessible place for kids, families and neighbors in the Passaic community to enjoy for generations to come.
To ensure play is accessible to all kids, especially the 16 million growing up in poverty in America, all cities need to reimagine public spaces and create opportunities for play everywhere. Shining a light on play is just the beginning, and it's the leading concept behind Playability, the extent to which cities make it easier for kids to get balanced and active play. Everyone from parents to city leaders and changemakers across all sectors must work collectively to make their communities more family-friendly and filled with play. With your help we can build a brighter, healthier and thriving future for all kids.
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build, open or improve nearly 16,000 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers and served 7.4 million children. KaBOOM! creates great places to play, inspires communities to promote and support play, and works to drive the national discussion about the importance of play in fostering healthy lives and communities. To learn more about KaBOOM! and why play matters, visit kaboom.org.