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Kids at the Grand Prairie YMCA are celebrating today because they have a great new place to play. For months, representatives from the Grand Prairie Family YMCA, fraternal life insurer Foresters Financialand KABOOM!, the nonprofit organization focused on ending playspace inequity, have been working together to increase access to playspaces for local kids, with the creation of a new, kid-designed layground installed on November 16, 2020. Kids now have an incredible place to play close to where they live and learn, an opportunity that is often hard to achieve.

Since 2006, Foresters Financial and KaBOOM! have built more than 160 beautiful playspaces across North America. Thanks to the hard work of over 10,625 Foresters Financial members, sales partners and guests, Foresters is positively impacting the lives of more than 5.3 million children by providing them with access to play.

Foresters Financial’s Global Chief Membership Officer Nicole Gourley said, "Foresters Financial has always been focused on our purpose – to enrich family and community well-being. That commitment continues during COVID-19, and safety is our top priority. We are pleased to work with the Grand Prairie Family YMCA and KABOOM! to introduce a playspace that promotes the well-being of everyone, allowing families to spend quality time together right in their own neighborhoods.”

 Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, KABOOM! has introduced comprehensive measures to ensure the safety of all those involved in the lifecycle of its playgrounds, and this was KABOOM!’s latest virtual build.

In September, kids from the community participated in a virtual Design Day, where they creatively thought of ideas for their dream playground.The new playground, which was designed with inspiration from their drawings, will provide hundreds of kids and their families in Grand Prairie with an incredible playspace that can spark hope and enable kids to reach their full potential. Following Design Day, rather than working with volunteers from the local community, it was installed by a small professional installation team using masks and social distancing. The playground features customized safety signage and a handwashing station, and KABOOM! has issued a comprehensive guide to help the community, playground owners/operators and caregivers navigate the safe use of playspaces, developed based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Recreation and Parks Association.

During COVID-19, the Grand Prairie YMCA has served meals to families, provided essential back to school supplies to more than 700 youth, provided free immunization and has relied on the idea of “community” to serve. The Grand Prairie YMCA has been able to serve children throughout the community through summer camp, school activities, youth sports and now with this community playspace, which gives kids space to be kids during these uncertain times.

“Grand Prairie is a family community where people come together to support each other. The pandemic has tightened that bond,” said Debbi Johnston, Y Board Member, GP Resident and Community volunteer. “These are exciting times for our Grand Prairie YMCA. Despite the COVID-pandemic slow down, the Grand Prairie YMCA was able to raise $11,394.00 to pay for our portion of the KABOOM! Playground Professional Build Project thanks to the generous support from the community. What’s even more exciting is that kids from the local community are helping to design the exact KABOOM! playground they will play on for years to come. I am so proud of our community and the YMCA leadership to help us move forward with this exciting project. It was a much-needed boost in our community.”

A ribbon cutting event to officially open the playground will be held outdoors on November 19 at 1:30pm. Masks are required for attendance.

KABOOM! knows that playspaces are essential to resilience, health and childhood, and the communities that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 – communities facing challenges already, and communities of color – are also those that often lack access to parks and playspaces due to historic disinvestment. The partners have teamed up to help end playspace inequity, creating a new place for kids to play that reflects the neighborhood’s unique needs and aspirations, and gives every kid the opportunity to experience the joys of childhood. 

“We know disasters and crises often exacerbate the inequities that communities are already experiencing, and in many communities, kids won’t have a playground to go back to once the COVID-19 crisis is over,” says James Siegal, CEO of KABOOM!. “We must stop the playspace inequities from becoming even deeper after we get through this pandemic, giving every kid the chance to play and just enjoy being a kid.”