WASHINGTON, May 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Brooklyn community members are partnering with KaBOOM!, the Baltimore Children & Youth Fund (BCYF) funded by the City of Baltimore, Under Armour and the Fund for Educational Excellence to build a kid-designed, state-of-the-art playground at Maree G. Farring Elementary Middle School. The new playground will help make play the easy choice for kids and families in the Brooklyn area of Baltimore, a neighborhood that has experienced decades of disinvestment that led to inequitable access to play. This new space also answers an urgent need after the nearby playground at Garrett Park burned down in March, leaving kids with no place to play within the neighborhood.
Schools should be a place where kids can learn, be safe, grow and just be kids. However, many schools and surrounding communities have experienced chronic disinvestment and, as a result, are challenged by issues such as high poverty, homelessness and violence. These and other circumstances often make it more challenging for kids to learn the crucial social, emotional, cognitive, creative and physical skills they need to be successful students and future adults, skills that are developed on the playground. Working with community members and the City of Baltimore, KaBOOM! is leveraging significant funding from BCYF to show kids that they matter by addressing their critical need to play.
Play is at the center of childhood – it helps to promote physical, creative, cognitive, social and emotional development for kids. But far too often, play is hard to come by for many kids because their communities have faced inequitable investment as a result of race, zip code or family income. Farring Elementary Middle School is one of the most diverse schools in Baltimore, with the population almost evenly split between African-American, Latinx and White students. Parent engagement in the school is strong, with parents and community members committed to taking action to create a better future for their kids.
"Before the new playground, there were no resources for the kids," said Alicia Liphart, president of the Farring EMS PTO. "This new playground will provide a special place just for the kids to enjoy, where they can play and feel safe in their community."
KaBOOM! has long worked with communities across Baltimore neighborhoods that have experienced disinvestment to create great, safe places to play. KaBOOM! significantly increased its efforts in Baltimore after the civil unrest following Freddie Gray's death in 2015. Since then, KaBOOM! has partnered with more than 50 community-based organizations and city agencies to help improve outcomes for kids in the city. And while community-driven progress has been made, there's still a need for continued local investment to address the unmet need for more equitable access to playspaces for kids in Baltimore.
"Play is not a luxury, but an essential part of childhood that helps kids grow up happy, healthy and resilient. Every kid in Baltimore deserves a great place to play where they live and learn. It is unconscionable that elementary students in the wealthiest country in the world go to schools that don't have great, safe playgrounds," said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. "With funding from the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund, we are able to partner locally to address this urgent need, so that Baltimore kids who are too often overlooked have the opportunity to play and just be kids."
This the first playground project supported by BCYF, a fund designed to support Baltimore's kids, youth and young adults. This new playground was also made possible by Under Armour, which provided funding toward the playground equipment for the project.
KaBOOM! will continue to work with the City of Baltimore this year, with support from the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund, to help ensure there is more equitable access to great, safe places to play for kids throughout Baltimore.
About Maree G. Farring Elementary Middle School/Baltimore City Public Schools
Maree G. Farring Elementary-Middle School currently services 750 students in the South Baltimore Brooklyn neighborhood. A high-needs urban school, Farring is a Title I community with a diverse student body is assessed at one-third white, one-third Black, and one-third LatinX, with the latter group increasing as a net percentage each year. Approximately 18% of all students qualify for special education supports, and nearly 24% students receive ESOL services. Student mobility rate was 42% in 2017. Committed to inspiring students and empowering families to excellence in Brooklyn, the school is actively engaged in a program of robust partnerships that leverage expertise, resources, and opportunities to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students.
About Baltimore Children and Youth Fund
The Baltimore Children and Youth Fund (the Fund) is a $12 million non-lapsing fund dedicated to supporting Baltimore's children, youth, and young adults. The Fund was launched in 2015 by Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young and approved by voters in November 2016 with over 80 percent support.
About Greater Baybrook Alliance
Greater Baybrook is a historic collaboration that crosses Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County - unifying communities in an effort to lift up a common vision for healthy, sustainable dignified places to live and work.
About Under Armour
Under Armour, Inc., headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland is a leading inventor, marketer and distributor of branded performance athletic apparel, footwear and accessories. Designed to make all athletes better, the brand's innovative products are sold worldwide to consumers with active lifestyles. The company's Connected Fitness™ platform powers the world's largest digitally connected health and fitness community. For further information, please visit https://about.underarmour.com/.
About the Fund for Educational Excellence
Founded in 1984, the Fund is a Baltimore-based non-profit organization that works to secure the financial, human, and knowledge resources necessary to support innovation that increases student achievement in City Schools. Wholly committed to improving educational opportunities for students in our city's public schools, the Fund provides critical support toward achieving the district's mission of accelerating student progress to ensure that students have the attitudes, skills, and proficiencies needed to succeed in college and in the 21st century global workforce.
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids – especially those living in poverty – the childhood they deserve through great, safe places to play. KaBOOM! inspires communities to make play the easy choice and works to drive the national discussion about the importance of PLAYces. KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build or improve more than 17,000 playspaces, engage over 1.5 million volunteers and serve nearly 10 million kids. To learn why play matters for all kids, visit kaboom.org and join the conversation at twitter.com/kaboom, facebook.com/kaboom and instagram.com/kaboom. #playmatters #PLAYceforKids