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Feature Story

May 2017


KaBOOM! Brings Play to Military Kids

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By Chandler Garland

During the "Week of Play," from April 23 to 29, The Carmax Foundation and KaBOOM! hosted 10 community events nationwide to bring play opportunities to the children of veterans and Active-Duty service members. Ten grants for creative playsets were provided to nonprofit organizations across the country that serve children specifically. Each grantee, from Seattle to Fayetteville, N.C., celebrated the receipt of these play sets through community events.

Toward the end of the week, which happens also to fall in the Month of the Military Child, the partners brought a new playground to Norfolk, Va., which has a huge population of military families. Many families in this community expressed that, while their experience moving to Norfolk is largely positive, the limited number of community play spaces and opportunities has made the transition harder on their children.

The grants' specific focus on military children is to provide community support to military families across the nation. The children of active-duty service members, in particular, suffer from significant emotional stress when a parent deploys or returns home. According to Blue Star Families' annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey, 42 percent of military families experienced more than six months of family separation in the past 18 months. Having opportunities for play negates some of these negative effects because it allows children a return to normalcy and provides healthy activities.

"Play is the very essence of childhood. You can't even imagine a childhood without play, but for too many kids who don't have easy opportunities to play in their community, it is a distressing reality," said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. "When kids experience stress in their lives, play provides an outlet for them to channel their emotions in positive ways and demonstrates to kids that they are protected and loved. This is especially important for kids who move often or have deployed parents. Thanks to the commitment and leadership of The CarMax Foundation, our partnership has provided more ways for kids of military families to experience the healing power of play, helping them grow up healthy and active so they can be successful in life."

Community volunteers came together to build this new play space that experts designed to match local kids' drawings of their dream playgrounds. These drawings were submitted at a special event in March.

"We are proud to be the first corporate partner with KaBOOM! to make a significant commitment to bringing play spaces to military communities," said Craig Cronheim, president of The CarMax Foundation. "Our associates are passionate about caring for the communities in which we live and work, and they understand the importance of giving kids more opportunities to play. And, we're also deeply committed to our military community, so this is a perfect match."


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