PlayBuild Named Winner in KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge

$15K Grant Will Fund Phase One of PL@Y MLK Bringing Play to the MLK Neutral Ground

[NEW ORLEANS, LA]. – This week, PlayBuild was selected as a winner in the Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million national competition that will award innovative ideas to make play easy, available, and fun for kids and families in cities across the U.S. The Challenge is hosted by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.

PlayBuild, in partnership with the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University will receive $15,000 of funding to launch Phase One of PL@Y MLK – transforming the neutral ground of the Martin Luther King corridor in Central City as a weekend play destination for kids and families.

PL@Y MLK was selected as one of 50 winners out of a pool of more than 1,000 applications nationwide.

Working in collaboration with Taylor and local community partners, PlayBuild will deploy a mobile PL@Y MLK play station full of large and small-scale toys, games and creative play activities on the MLK neutral ground. Temporary seating will enable kids and families to gather and play.

Phase One will see the launch of the first mobile play station on MLK in November. Later phases of the project will see the rollout of additional themed play stations, which will be housed with community partners along MLK Boulevard between Simon Bolivar and Claiborne Avenues. PlayBuild will fundraise an additional $30K with a goal of implementing the project fully by mid-2017.

The Play Everywhere Challenge was developed in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Target, Playworld, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts. It has attracted an outpouring of creative ideas to spark kids’ imaginations and get their bodies moving.

The PL@Y MLK concept came from a desire to reach more Central City, New Orleans kids with PlayBuild’s unique program to engage them in design-themed play with a range of innovative toys and materials. PlayBuild operates from a formerly blighted that has been converted into an outdoor classroom. PlayBuild’s play space is located at 2828 Thalia Street, one block from Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Angela Kyle, Playbuild co-founder explains: PL@Y MLK originated from a neighborhood experience in April 2016 with the Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking. Feedback from residents of the MLK corridor between Simon Bolivar and Claiborne Avenues confirmed that access to everyday play spots is a challenge. Kids still lack play opportunities within a safe walking distance. Creating and regularly mobilizing our portable play station along MLK, we hope to address that challenge.

PlayBuild will work closely with with local anchor institutions like churches and community centers and will recruit neighborhood residents and Tulane University students to help implement, refine the designs, run play stations, and monitor and evaluate impact.. Research shows play is vital to healthy brain development and is pivotal to how kids learn problem-solving, conflict resolution, and creativity–in other words, the skills they need to succeed as adults. Yet today, too many kids, especially those growing up in poverty, are missing out on opportunities for play because of families’ time pressures, the lure of screens, and a lack of safe places to go. Meanwhile, evidence shows missing out on play time puts kids at risk for challenges ranging from obesity to anxiety to trouble adjusting in school.

“Winners like PlayBuild and the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking are at the vanguard of building kid-friendly cities that meet the needs of families and enable kids to thrive,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. “By integrating play into everyday spaces in such an innovative way, PL@Y MLK is a great model to inspire other cities across the country to follow suit.”

“Winning this challenge is a win for New Orleans kids, and for their chances to grow and develop through play,” said Angela Kyle, Co-founder of PlayBuild applicant. “This prize will help us build on the work we are doing in Central City by creating a portable and visible way for PlayBuild to have a presence on the MLK corridor and meet more neighborhood kids and parents. We hope this prize will be a bellwether for Central City and set an example for all of New Orleans. Starting here on the neutral ground we can design a real, radical transformation to make play a way of life for all kids and families in our community. PL@Y MLK addresses equity issues in New Orleans at ground zero by making play accessible especially in underserved neighborhoods.”

To learn more about PlayBuild’s ideas for making play happen everywhere in Central City, and across New Orleans, and to express interest in partnering with PL@Y MLK contact PlayBuild co-founder Angela Kyle by email at info@playbuild.org.

Visit PlayBuild online at: www.playbuild.org, on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/PlayBuild, and follow on Twitter: @PlayBuild_NOLA

For press queries contact Amy Barrios at MultiMedia Solutions by phone at 504-621-5646

To learn more about the Play Everywhere Challenge, and view a gallery of winning ideas from cities across the US, please visit http://kaboom.org/playeverywhere.

 

About PlayBuild
PlayBuild is a three-year old education non-profit based in Central City. PlayBuild’s mission is to transform under-utilized urban spaces into dynamic play environments for kids. In 2013, PlayBuild turned a blighted lot on Thalia Street into an outdoor classroom, hosting neighborhood charter schools for after-school activities. In 2014 PlayBuild partnered with Palmisano Contractors to fulfill the dream of a permanent play space with an open-air classroom, green space and a garden. Beyond Central City, throughout the year PlayBuild produces pop-up play events for kids and families in partnership with local community organizations. For more info please visit: www.playbuild.org. You can follow PlayBuild on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/PlayBuild, and on Twitter at @PlayBuild_NOLA

 

About the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Design Thinking and Social Innovation
Taylor dissolves boundaries and inspires collaboration between students, staff, faculty, and community members to develop innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social and environmental problems. Founded in 2014 with a generous gift from Phyllis M. Taylor, the center coalesces campus and community engagement in social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and design thinking, providing a unique interdisciplinary inter-section of thought and action on our campus and in our local and global community. Activities at Taylor include an academic minor, workshops, speakers, competitions, and other programs working with diverse faculty, staff, students and community partners.

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PlayBuild wins Play Everywhere grant to bring mobile play stations to Central City New Orleans

After months of hard work, we are thrilled to be able to share our vision for PL@Y MLK and to announce that we are among the 50 winners of the Play Everywhere Challenge, a KaBOOM-hosted, nationwide contest to bring play to everyday places and spaces in underserved communities.

The seed for PL@Y MLK was planted in April 2016, when we partnered with the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking for our second Fast 48 Design Thinking Boot Camp. Thirty design thinkers joined us for 48 hours over a weekend to rapid prototype community development ideas that would help PlayBuild engage a broader cross section of organizations in Central City. Plus help us serve more children in that neighborhood, which is home to our outdoor classroom where we do afterschool programming and host field trips.

Fast 48 Design Thinking Workshop 2016 -

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Fast 48 Design Thinking Workshop 2016 - Mapping the neighborhood around PlayBuild's Thalia Street outdoor location

A key insight from neighbors and community residents was a need for PlayBuild to raise its visibility in the neighborhood (our classroom site is tucked away on a side street) and offer more frequent opportunities for community members to engage with PlayBuild’s programming and play activities. In addition, several members of the church across the street from our site expressed a desire for us to bring our outreach program to them and engage their youth ministry in much the same way that we engage with local schools.

Based on this feedback, one of the Fast 48 teams brainstormed solutions for “hyper local play.” This concept eventually evolved into the idea of “pop-up play events,” targeting a tightly-focused pedestrian zone within a 5-10 block distance of our Thalia Street home base.

Graphic showing first phase of Play MLK initiative, planned for MLK Blvd in Central City, New Orleans

When the KaBOOM Play Everywhere Challenge was announced in May, we pulled our team of weekend warriors back together and went to work on developing this kernel of an idea into a viable proposal.

We needed to create a mobile version of the ‘PlayBuild experience’ that would function as an extension of PlayBuild, yet enable us to broaden our reach and expand our neighborhood footprint. Almost like “PlayBuild To Go.”

Luckily, we knew just the people to ask! Leslie and Sam Davol, co-founders of the UNI Project, have been friends and founding partners of PlayBuild since we started. When we reached out to them, they proposed their mini mobile cart as the perfect solution for our needs and we agreed.

We submitted our initial Play Everywhere proposal in June, and in July, we were invited to the finalist round.

In true design thinking fashion, conversations with potential local partners led us to iterate the initial concept, which we decided to brand PL@Y MLK.

A big focus of our discussion was around using the neutral ground (i.e., what we call a median in New Orleans) along Martin Luther King Boulevard as our chosen location for staging PL@Y MLK play stations. A few team members did a deep dive into the history and significance of the neutral ground as we considered the pros (visibility) and cons (safety) of situating play activities along a highly trafficked corridor.

As we grappled with this conundrum, in early and mid-July racial violence flared in Baton Rouge in the wake of Alton Sterling’s death and subsequent police shootings.

With this context, the historic significance of the neutral ground – a safe zone where two sides in a conflict were invited to come and lay down their arms – took on a greater and more urgent relevance as we considered the day-to-day lives of the children and young people in our neighborhood.

Our tag line became: “From the playground to the neutral ground.”

 

PL@Y MLK – Phase One

Our KaBOOM award will enable us to implement Phase One of our long-term plan for PL@Y MLK – to build and deploy three play stations along the MLK Boulevard corridor.

We will build and launch our first UNI cart in early November and work closely with a host partner in the neighborhood to plan and manage implementation. Tulane and the Taylor Center will provide implementation support, volunteers, evaluation, and impact assessment.

 

PL@Y MLK – Beyond

If Phase 1 is successful, we’ll raise money to build at least two more mobile play stations and partner with additional host organizations in the neighborhood to deploy them along the MLK corridor.

Our end goal is to be able to program a zone of play that comprises the eight blocks from Simon Bolivar to Claiborne Avenues and includes our Thalia Street play space.

Summer Instructors Wanted

SUMMER @ PLAYBUILD – INSTRUCTORS WANTED

Mission

PlayBuild’s mission is to transform under-utilized urban spaces into safe, fun environments for kids to learn about design.

For more background, please visit PlayBuild’s website at www.playbuild.org.

Position

PlayBuild is seeking energetic, experienced and highly capable program instructors to deliver our unique design curriculum in a fun summer camp environment to kids ages 4-12.  The majority of summer camp will take place outdoors at 2828 Thalia Street, our flagship play space located in Central City.  Instructors will lead 15-20 PlayBuilders in interactive design, architectural, engineering, and construction play activities.  The right candidate will create a fun, safe, hands-on learning experience for PlayBuild campers, encouraging them to explore, play and build using the many different toys and materials available at our Thalia Street site.

Timing 

PlayBuild is looking for instructors to support our summer activities throughout the months of June and July.   Instructors will participate in a short training module prior to any on-site instruction.  Activities will be scheduled between 8 am and 5:30 pm Mondays through Fridays.  

Compensation

This is a PAID position; hourly rate subject to negotiation based on relevant experience and qualifications

Responsibilities

The Program Instructor’s role is to lead lessons and activities using PlayBuild’s curriculum, to manage the safety and supervision of campers, and to assist with general classroom operations at our Thalia Street location.

Lessons and Curriculum

Why are shotgun houses built the way they are? How can we make the straw and stick houses stronger for the Little Pigs? How do we make our neighborhoods more kid-friendly? These are just some of the questions that PlayBuilders will be answering this summer.

PlayBuilders learn about the world around them and how they can become engaged in community change, preservation and design through fun and interactive enrichment activities.

Each PlayBuild lesson is delivered in 3 parts: 

Traditional Classroom- a time for reading, critical thinking and group discussion

Guided Play- a time for guided enrichment activities in the form of an art or building project that reinforces the traditional lesson 

Free Play- the finale that lets PlayBuilders tinker, create, innovate, explore and problem-solve with limited adult interference

Safety and Supervision

PlayBuild operates an open air classroom in an urban environment.  We are located in a residential neighborhood just off the Claiborne corridor.  Our setting is unique, and we need to ensure that all adults on-site have the preparation and training necessary to confront a variety of situations as they arise.  We thoroughly orient all adult supervisors both to our space and our surroundings to ensure  suitability and readiness for monitoring and supervising our campers.

Classroom Set-Up, Lesson Prep

In preparation for hosting students on-site, the Program Instructor will assist with set-up and break-down of the playground equipment much of which is large-scale and modular and does require time and some physical activity.  Tasks involve moving of bins and carts of equipment, books, blocks and cubes.

Qualifications

Qualified candidates will have evidenced strong interest in PlayBuild’s mission through past experience working in community development, youth development, arts education, or other relevant fields. 

The ideal candidate will have hands-on experience working with and supervising students under the age of 10 in a classroom, recreational, or camp setting.  Note that PlayBuild’s activities take place outside during the summer.  Instructors should be prepared for summer temperatures and to the variability of New Orleans summer weather.  In the case of extreme inclement weather (thunderstorms and flooding) activities will be moved to an alternate location.

PlayBuild is committed to providing a safe space for kids and families.  Qualified candidates will agree to submit to a criminal background check and to participate in a one-hour online Play Associate training session for specific instruction in the use of PlayBuild’s Imagination Playground equipment.   PlayBuild will require ALL new Instructors to attend on-site training prior to beginning work.

If you are interested in working with PlayBuild, please contact:  info@playbuild.org subject line:  SUMMER CAMP PROGRAM INSTRUCTOR.  Please share your availability for full and part-time work during the months of June and July.  If you are available part-time please let us know your days and hours of availability.