Darell Hammond is an American philanthropist, founder and chief executive officer of the non-profit organization KaBOOM! that helps communities build playgrounds for children. Very active in running the company, Hammond also speaks at conferences and universities about his work and blogs on The Huffington Post. Hammond, who from the age of four enjoyed a happy childhood in a group home founded by Moose International, began building playgrounds in college, founding KaBOOM! with a friend in 1996. He has received multiple honors and awards for his work, including the President's Volunteer Service Award. In 2011, Hammond released his best-selling memoir, KaBOOM! How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play. He was listed in the Forbes 2011 list of the top 30 social entrepreneurs and was named as a "Health hero" by WebMD... (wikipedia)
Aaah, summer - that long anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility. It's a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends.
We are raising today's children in sterile, risk-averse and highly structured environments. In so doing, we are failing to cultivate artists, pioneers and entrepreneurs, and instead cultivating a generation of children who can follow the rules in organized sports games, sit for hours in front of screens and mark bubbles on standardized tests.
Given that the biggest rise in childhood obesity rates are occurring in children ages 3 to 5 years, we must modify our efforts to place an emphasis on prevention versus intervention.
Play is under attack in our nation's schools - and shrinking recess periods are only part of the problem. Homework is increasing. Cities are building new schools without playgrounds. Safety concerns are prompting bans of tag, soccer, and even running on the schoolyard.
Growing up in a group home, and with an undiagnosed learning disability to boot, the odds of success were not on my side. But when I joined the high school football team, I learned the value of discipline, focus, persistence, and teamwork - all skills that have proven vital to my career as a C.E.O. and social entrepreneur.
Increased physical activity during the school day can help children's attention, classroom behavior, and achievement test scores. Meanwhile, the decline of play is closely linked to ADHD; behavioral problems; and stunted social, cognitive, and creative development.
Our education system is increasingly embracing a black-and-white way of thinking, in which 'learning' and 'play' are diametrically opposed. 'Learning' is the serious stuff that happens inside a classroom and can be measured via multiple choice questions and a No. 2 pencil. 'Play' is frivolous, fun, and worst of all, optional.
Only one in five children in the U.S. lives within walking distance of a park. Many more lack access to a quality early childhood education that provides ample time and space to play.
In neighborhoods without a usable park or playground, the incidence of childhood obesity increases by 29 percent.
In an era of parental paranoia, lawsuit mania and testing frenzy, we are failing to inspire our children's curiosity, creativity, and imagination. We are denying them opportunities to tinker, discover, and explore - in short, to play.