Community First Church of God, Smile Generation, and KABOOM! Unveil Kid-Designed Playground in Homeland, California

Community joins forces with nonprofit to advance playspace equity.

Homeland, Calif. (Jan. 30, 2023) - Today, kids in Homeland, Calif. are celebrating as the Community First Church of God debuted a kid-designed playground over the weekend. The months-long collaboration between the church, Smile Generation and KABOOM! culminated this week as more than 150 volunteers installed the new playspace, which will offer local children a high-quality, safe place to play that is close to where they live and learn.

The new playground was a collaborative effort by community members, including kids, who presented creative ideas for their dream playground during a design day in November. The playground is inspired by those drawings and will provide local families with a place to get active, build social bonds, and gather as a community.

Since 2015, the Community First Church of God has endured a series of unfortunate events, including a burglary and three massive church fires due to arson. Through the heart and efforts of the Homeland community, the church was restored and strengthened with hope and faith. In the fall of 2022, a 14-year-old member of the church was killed in a car accident while riding his dirt bike in his neighborhood. As the church has become a hub for the Homeland community, residents desire for this space to be safe for their children.

“The children of Homeland have been waiting for a playground and a park for many years, now they have one!” said Mike Gratzke, Pastor of Community First Church of God.

Play is essential to the physical, social, and emotional health of every child. However, historic disinvestment and exclusion caused by systemic racism have denied generations of children equitable access to parks and playgrounds, disproportionately affecting communities of color. The new playground at Community First Church of God, designed with the neighborhood’s unique needs and aspirations in mind, brings Homeland one step closer toward ending playspace inequity and ensuring that every kid has the opportunity to experience the joys of childhood.

“Playgrounds are an iconic part of childhood. They’re not only where kids collect some of their best memories, but also where crucial skills are developed that nurture their physical, mental, and emotional well-being,” said Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!. “KABOOM! is thrilled to work with our partners to bring to life the new playspace at Community First Church of God and ensure that kids in Homeland have a place designed just for them, where they can play, learn, and unlock their greatest potential.”

Smile Generation have provided support for the new playground through its partnership with KABOOM!, furthering its commitment to ending playspace inequity. Since 2010, Smile Generation has partnered with KABOOM! to build 18 playgrounds across the country.

“We’re proud to have an impact on the Homeland community and on the lives of all who will enjoy this playground,” said Carli Kingsley, a Smile Generation Ambassador and Sr. Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility at Pacific Dental Services. “People are at the heart of what we do, whether that be caring for their oral health or volunteering for projects that will improve their overall health. Through collectively serving our communities, we are helping to make life better for the people in and around the neighborhoods where we live and work.”

To ensure that playgrounds are able to open safely in every community, KABOOM! has issued important playground guidance that all communities, playground owner/operators and caregivers can follow. The guidance can be viewed or downloaded at

To view photos and videos of the event, click here.

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