Published October 21, 2020
Kids in Luling are celebrating today because they have a great new place to play. For months, representatives from City of Luling, the Luling Community, St. David’s Foundation and KABOOM!, the nonprofit organization focused on ending playspace inequity, have been working together to increase access to playspaces for local kids with the creation of a new, kid-designed playground that was installed in October. The playground will give kids an incredible place to play close to where they live and learn, an opportunity that is often hard to achieve.
Playgrounds are more than just areas where kids can be kept busy or “go run around outside” for a while. Playgrounds are the absence of stress. They are a major part of development, and we view them as vital to communities and the overall well-being of children. Physical play is proven to reduce stress and the unstructured nature of playground time allows children to retain a sense of control that is not available in many other parts of their lives. With the growing number of COVID cases in conjunction with school and park closures, kids have had an increase in stress and anxiety and have had little to no outlet to help ‘work’ their feelings of anxiety/stress/confusion out in a healthy way.
With the addition of a new playground and parks re-opening, kids in Luling can go back to meeting their friends and/or meeting new friends, being physically active, boosting their immune system and their mental health. Further, they can burn energy, reduce stress and most of all relax from a day tethered to a computer screen for virtual learning. In light of COVID-19 health and safety measures, access to and use of the park will strictly follow guidelines set forth by the county.
“I’m so happy for the children of Luling, and so appreciative of all the hard work that has gone into making this new playscape a reality. Many thanks to St. David’s Foundation, KABOOM!, our volunteers, staff and everyone who worked on this project, especially the kids who helped design it. I’m looking forward to seeing the completed playscape, and lots of smiling faces out there enjoying it.” Melanie Doyle, City of Luling Councilperson Ward 2
In February, kids from the community participated in a virtual Design Day where they creatively thought of ideas to create their dream playground. The new playground, which was designed with inspiration from their drawings, will provide hundreds of kids and their families in Luling with an incredible playspace that can spark hope and enable kids to reach their full potential.
Playscapes are essential to resilience, health and childhood, and the communities who have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 – communities facing challenges already, and communities of color – are the same communities who often lack access to parks and playspaces due to historic disinvestment. The partners have teamed up to help end playspace inequity, creating a new place for kids to play that reflects the neighborhood’s unique needs and aspirations, and gives every kid the opportunity to experience the joys of childhood.
“We know disasters and crises often exacerbate the inequities that communities are already experiencing, and in many communities, kids won’t have a playground to go back to once the COVID-19 crisis is over. We must stop the playspace inequities from becoming even deeper after we get through this pandemic, giving every kid the chance to play and just enjoy being a kid.” James Siegal, CEO of KABOOM!
Through its partnership with St. David’s Foundation, KABOOM! is committed to ending playspace inequity for kids, for communities, for good. This signature Community-Build model will provide a gathering space for hundreds of children (and their families) served by the City of Luling’s Blanche Square Park. The concept and playground is centered around closing the equity gap of play opportunities, and creating a vibrant, fun, and activated park that mitigates the current barriers to active play within this community.
“The impact of COVID-19 across our community further activates and requires us help resolve Central Texas’ most pressing health issues with equity at the forefront. We believe that equitable access to parks not only benefits the community by helping to promote physical activity, but serves as a safe place for increased mental well-being and social connection across the lifespan. St. David’s Foundation is humbled and honored to partner once again with the community of Luling to create this beautiful playspace.” Abena Asante, Senior Program Officer, St. David’s Foundation
To ensure that playgrounds are able to open safely in every community, KABOOM! has issued important playground guidance that all communities, playground owner/operators and caregivers can follow. The guidance can be viewed or downloaded at kaboom.org/reopen.