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 August. The playground is inspired by those drawings and will provide hundreds of kids and their families with a place to get active, build social bonds, and gather as a community.
“Dr. Ruth Wilson whose work focuses on the holistic development of children, with an emphasis on connections between body, mind, and spirit said it best, ‘Most of what children need to learn during their early childhood years cannot be taught: it’s discovered through play.’ That is why making opportunities for play, such as this Kaboom playground, accessible for all children in all communities is so important.” Says Andrea Sulsona, Executive Director of YMCA of Greater Long Beach Early Childhood Education.
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 the 70th Street Preschool, designed with the neighborhood’s unique needs and aspirations in mind, brings Long Beach 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 the 70th Street Preschool and ensure that kids in Long Beach have a place designed just for them, where they can play, learn, and unlock their greatest potential.”
This was the 17th playground that Smile Generation and KABOOM! have built together since they partnered in 2010. Each year, Smile Generation and KABOOM! identify a region and location in need of a playground from around the country; the 70th Street Preschool was chosen for 2022. Smile Generation provides support and team member volunteers to help prepare and construct the play space.
Smile Generation connects consumers to trusted dentists who are dedicated to providing an exceptional patient experience and advanced clinical care. It also provides financial choices for patients and education about the connection between oral health and overall health, or what its trusted dental practices call the Mouth-Body Connection®, while also working to be a force for good in the communities it serves. Smile Generation-trusted dental practices are supported by Pacific Dental Services®.
“We’re proud to have an impact on the Long Beach 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 kaboom.org/reopen.
To view photos of the event, click here.