Playtime

KaBOOM! volunteers assemble a jungle gym in Bay St. Louis, Miss. i i

KaBOOM! volunteers assemble a jungle gym Bay St. Louis Miss., during the organization's "Ten Playgrounds in Four Days" project to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Noah Adams, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Noah Adams, NPR
KaBOOM! volunteers assemble a jungle gym in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

KaBOOM! volunteers assemble a jungle gym Bay St. Louis Miss., during the organization's "Ten Playgrounds in Four Days" project to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Noah Adams, NPR
KaBOOM! cofounder Darell Hammond.

KaBOOM! cofounder Darell Hammond. hide caption

itoggle caption

A dispatch from Noah Adams, blogging from the Gulf Coast:

KaBOOM! is the name of a non-profit out of Washington, D.C., that builds playgrounds for kids across the nation. This week KaBOOM! is building 10 play spaces in four days along the path of the storm from New Orleans over to Biloxi. Four days and 4,000 volunteers. Hundreds of coordinated workers descend on a site at 6:30 a.m. Two days later, the concrete is dry and the kids are in for good. KaBOOM! In fact, the organization asks the kids in each community to design the playgrounds – the children actually draw what they want. After the storm, along the coast (and no where else in the country), the youngsters drew structures on stilts, and with roofs. They wanted reassurance.

This morning in Bay St. Louis about 30 volunteers were adding swing sets to a playground built back in December. KaBOOM! cofounder Darell Hammond was there and told me he grew up in an orphanage that received plenty of volunteer help. Hammond started KaBOOM! in part to instill a spirit of community work in today's generation of youngsters. "These kids we're helping now will know about volunteers and ways to help their neighbors, and maybe they'll go on to do the same."

Darell is large and, when I saw him, sweaty and happy (He was standing with a shovel on top of a mountain of wood shavings); perhaps by Thursday evening he'll be worn out. But he's determined to finish 30 playgrounds along the coast by the end of the year. "Our vision? A great place to play within walking distance of every child."

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