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Calling All Kids & Parents: Help Save Play This Summer!

by Darell Hammond

It's the time of year when parents worry about summer learning loss and getting the kids off the couch. Good news! There is a fun and free way to exercise a child's mind and body – your neighborhood playground.

Kids learn valuable cognitive and social skills as they master new challenges and navigate the equipment together, and they are better able to focus on reading after being physically active. In a day and age when kids spend an average of 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen, it's critical that we give them the time and space to play outdoors.

That's why this summer KaBOOM! has issued our 2012 Playground Challenge, which gives you and your kids a chance to play together, be active, explore your community, and meet new neighbors.

Each playground you visit will earn you points and badges toward one of our three Grand Prizes, including a trip to Washington, D.C. Plus, every other week, we'll issue a “mini challenge” for a chance to earn other prizes along the way.

While we want you to have fun and win prizes, we also want you to help us bring play to kids across America.

By mapping the playgrounds you visit, you will help KaBOOM! populate our nationwide Map of Play. That will in turn help identify “play deserts” – the places that have lots of kids but not enough playspaces. This is a crucial part of helping us achieve our vision of a great place to play within walking distance of every child.

To make it even more fun, we've just launched our new mobile app, Tag!. Available for iPhone and Android, Tag! makes it easy to take pictures of each playground visited, and, in the process, automatically inputs the GIS data so the playground can be added instantly to the Map of Play.

KaBOOM! has built more than 2,100 playgrounds across America. But with only one in five kids living within walking distance of a park or playground, we've got a lot more work to do. That's why we need your help. We hope you will be motivated not only to get outside with your family this summer to play, but also to get engaged in the growing movement to save play.

Don't have playgrounds to map in your neighborhood? Don't let that stop you from getting outside and playing this summer. Partnership for a Healthier America is leading communities to organize Play Streets that routinely close specific streets to traffic to encourage and increase physical activity.

So make sure you take some time to go out and play, and don't stop there. Join us in the growing movement to save play.

Darell Hammond is the founder and CEO of KaBOOM!

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