About the Book
At just four years old, KaBOOM! Founder and CEO Darell Hammond was taken to a group home with his seven siblings outside of Chicago, where they grew up after his father abruptly abandoned the family. It was in this home, Hammond writes, that he learned about kindness, generosity, and community service.
In 1995, Hammond read an article in The Washington Post about two young children who died after becoming trapped in an abandoned car while playing. At the time, there were no safe places for children to play in their community, less than two miles from the U.S. Capitol. Hammond changed that—he brought the community together to build a playground in their honor and at just 24 years old, started KaBOOM! from his Washington, DC apartment.
Now available in paperback, Hammond’s powerful story is the tale of a man and a movement, both born out of tragedy. This book tells one social entrepreneur’s inspiring journey of going from growing up in a group home to founding the national nonprofit dedicated to saving play for America’s children. He instructs readers on how to take action in their own communities with tangible steps to make a difference.
During the last 16 years Hammond has led efforts to combine corporate dollars with community muscle to build an innovative $27 million a year non-profit, construct more than 2,100 playgrounds across the country and bring play to the lives of more than 5.5 million children. He explains that today’s children have less time to play than any previous generation. Building playgrounds solves two problems: the play deficit and the need for community. “Imagine this empty lot becoming a great place for the community to gather and congregate. It all starts with passionate people coming together for a singular purpose,” describes Hammond.
Hammond’s story demonstrates how one idealist can change the world and how small, civic-minded steps create a ripple effect that can transform communities and eventually the world at large. More than just a memoir, KaBOOM! is a call to action that inspires by challenging traditional notions of community and social change.
In the book he looks back at how he:
- Persuaded 290 companies to invest millions of dollars and employee volunteerism in programs that have provided playgrounds to communities and children in all 50 states through a model built on public/private partnerships.
- Built an organization that reaches communities around the globe through the online and open-sourced Do-It-Yourself playground building tool that shares the secrets of the KaBOOM! community playground-build model for free.
- Learned incredible and valuable lessons along his entrepreneurial journey: the importance of taking risks, tapping into one’s passion to create change, and nurturing talent from all sectors for social good.
- Created the innovative and sustainable revenue model for this audacious-dreaming national non-profit and leveraged the successful hands on, community-based service model into a vibrant online community taking grass-roots action on behalf of our kids.
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to saving play for America’s children. Founded in 1996, KaBOOM!’s mission is to create great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities. Ultimately, KaBOOM! envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
Like many non-profits, KaBOOM! exists to solve a problem: The Play Deficit. Our children are playing less than any previous generation, and this lack of play is causing them profound physical, intellectual, social, and emotional harm.
Not enough playspaces are being built; those that exist are often in disrepair. Fears surrounding lawsuits and safety are trumping common sense, resulting in sterile, uninspired play environments. Recess is being eliminated from our nation’s schools. Kids are overscheduled, and in their free time, many choose to stay indoors, lulled by television, computers and video games.
KaBOOM! fights this troubling play deficit, and its many related problems, through three central strategies:
- Constructing innovative, kid-inspired playspaces, using a community-build model that improves the well-being of the children we serve as well as the neighborhoods in which they live.
- Sharing the knowledge and tools needed for anyone to find, improve, and/or build playgrounds on their own.
- Building a broad movement driven by research, analysis, policy, and community engagement.
In saving play, we are creating healthier, happier, and smarter children, greener cities, better schools, and stronger neighborhoods. To date, KaBOOM! has built over 2,100 playgrounds, saving play for over 5.5 million children.