This is a guest post by Kristiana Carden.
Children’s free time should include play and physical activity, but kids in the United States simply aren’t playing enough. Only one in five children live within walking distance of a park or playground, and the incidence of childhood obesity increases 29 percent in neighborhoods without one. What’s more, children ages eight to 12 are now spending an average of 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen. This “play deficit” is having profound consequences for kids physically, socially and cognitively.
Photo credit: Tom Lynch Photography, courtesy of CarMax.
On June 7, volunteers from CarMax and its partners built two playgrounds in one day as The CarMax Foundation launched its $4.1 million partnership with KaBOOM!. The Richmond, Va. and Los Angeles playground builds were the first of 30 new playgrounds planned by the end of 2015.
Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Andrea throughout the day at the Richmond build only drove volunteers to work harder—they completed their playground in the fastest ever time for KaBOOM!. At the end of the day, and after lots of hard work, both locations had great new playgrounds for local families.
The CarMax Foundation selected the issue of children’s healthy living as its 10th anniversary focus, after associates expressed a desire to help today’s youth address the important issues of obesity and lack of physical activity.
“It’s our culture of caring for others that has drawn our associates to the issue of children’s healthy living,” said Lynn Mussatt, president of The CarMax Foundation and CarMax’s vice president of business operations. “Our associates across the country will impact countless families by helping get kids moving and playing.”
The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM! partnership will directly benefit 100,000 children in the next three years. Research shows that children who participate in regular physical activity and play are healthier, feel more connected to their community, foster positive attitudes toward diversity, build confidence and perform better in the classroom.
In addition to the 30 playground builds, The CarMax Foundation is donating 11 Imagination Playgrounds to select partner organizations. This innovative playspace has reconfigurable loose-parts that let children design their own playgrounds. The partnership also is collaborating to identify and eradicate “Play Deserts” – areas that have lots of kids but not enough places to play.
Throughout the next year, The CarMax Foundation/KaBOOM! partnership will build playgrounds in the following cities: Baltimore, Kansas City, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Phoenix, Dallas and Atlanta. Organizations can visit the KaBOOM! website for more information on becoming a partner.
“The true reward for all of us involved will be seeing children playing on these playgrounds for years to come,” said Damon Devins, CarMax location general manager in Buena Park, Calif., and KaBOOM! volunteer.