PlayBuild Named $15K Winner In KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge

NEW ORLEANS – The Phyllis M. Taylor Center For Social Innovation and Design Thinking announced its community partner Playbuild was selected as a winner in the Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million national competition that will award innovative ideas to make play easy, available, and fun for kids and families in cities across the U.S.

         The Challenge is hosted by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.

         PlayBuild, in partnership with the Taylor Center at Tulane University, will receive $15,000 of funding to launch Phase One of PL@Y MLK – transforming the neutral ground of the Martin Luther King corridor in Central City as a weekend play destination for kids and families.  

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         PL@Y MLK was selected as one of 50 winners out of a pool of more than 1,000 applications nationwide. Working in collaboration with community partners, PlayBuild will deploy a mobile PL@Y MLK play station full of large and small-scale toys, games and creative play activities on the MLK neutral ground. Temporary seating will enable kids and families to gather and play. Phase One will see the launch of the first mobile play station. Later phases of the project will see the rollout of additional themed play stations, which will be housed with community partners along the Boulevard between Simon Bolivar and Claiborne Avenues. 

         PlayBuild will fundraise an additional $30K with a goal of implementing the project fully by mid-2017. The Challenge, developed in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Target, Playworld, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts, attracted an outpouring of creative ideas to spark kids’ imaginations and get their bodies moving. The PL@Y MLK concept came from a desire to reach more Central City kids with their unique program which engages kids in design-themed play activities with a range of innovative toys and materials.  

         PlayBuild operates from a converted vacant lot at 2828 Thalia St., one block off of Martin Luther King Boulevard.

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         “PL@Y MLK originated from a grassroots community engagement exercise that we did in April of 2016 in partnership with the Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking,” said Angela Kyle, co-founder of PlayBuild. “Feedback from residents in the immediate vicinity of MLK corridor between Simon Bolivar and Claiborne Avenues confirmed that proximity to every day play is a challenge, and that there are still a lack of play opportunities for kids and families within safe walking distance. Through creating and mobilizing our portable play station along MLK on a regular basis, we hope to address that challenge.”

         PlayBuild will partner with local anchor institutions like churches and community centers and will utilize neighborhood residents and Tulane University students as volunteers to support the initiative.

         “Winners like PlayBuild and the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking are at the vanguard of building kid-friendly cities that meet the needs of families and enable kids to thrive,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. “By integrating play into everyday spaces in such an innovative way, PL@Y MLK is a great model to inspire other cities across the country to follow suit.”

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         Research shows play is vital to healthy brain development and is pivotal to how kids learn problem-solving, conflict resolution, and creativity–in other words, the skills they need to succeed as adults, Taylor Center reps said. Yet, today, too many kids, especially those growing up in poverty, are missing out on opportunities for play because of families’ time pressures, the lure of screens, and a lack of safe places to go, they said. Meanwhile, evidence shows missing out on play time puts kids at risk for challenges ranging from obesity to anxiety to trouble adjusting in school.

         “Winning this challenge is a win for New Orleans kids, and for their chances to grow and develop through play,” said Kyle. “This prize will help us build on the work we are doing in Central City by creating a portable and visible way for PlayBuild to have a presence on the MLK corridor and meet more neighborhood kids and parents. We hope this prize will be a belweather for Central City and set an example for all of New Orleans. Starting here on the neutral ground we can begin to make a real, radical transformation to make play a way of life for all kids and families in our community. Our project addresses equity issues in New Orleans at ground zero by making play accessible especially in underserved neighborhoods.”

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