St Paul joins KABOOM! playspace equality scheme

Image: Visit Saint Paul

St Paul is the latest US city to be added to a multi-million dollar programme aimed at ‘levelling up’ play spaces for youngsters nationally.

Play equality champion KABOOM! announced the Minnesota city as its latest partner in the ’25 in 5′ initiative, a five-year plan for achieving play space equity nationwide.

KABOOM! works mainly to help children from black and minority ethnic communities, and it launched the $250 million (USD) scheme at the start of 2022, supported by a $14m donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

The COVID pandemic resulted, sadly, in a deepening of racial inequalities across the US, including in the provision of and access to play opportunities. The 25 in 5 scheme was established to address the urgency of the situation by, in KABOOM!’s words, creating a ‘roadmap to end playspace inequity’, and accelerating progress within 25 priority locations over the next five years.

‘End playspace inequity’

The organisation defines playspace inequity as a combination of access & belonging, and so the core aim of this programme, with the help of dozens of stakeholders who are providing funding and support, is to help ensure every child has access to the same opportunities to thrive that play places provide.

Baltimore was announced last year as the first official partner of 25 in 5, and it has since been followed by five more cities. They are joined now by Saint Paul Parks and Recreation & Saint Paul Parks Conservancy, the city’s official agencies which oversee the facilities of over 200 parks in the region of St Paul and its twin city Minneapolis.

The city says it will now lead an ambitious plan to invest some $75m through a collaborative fundraising effort with regional, corporate, foundation and individual donors ‘to address gaps in access to quality places to play in communities that disproportionately lack resources, and to help achieve the city’s goal to Saint Paul a city that works for all’.

Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!, said: “Places to play form foundational experiences for kids, and we want to make sure these places are available everywhere for our future leaders. Even in cities like St. Paul where we celebrate optimal scores for parks in communities, data guides our work to ensure we uncover and address the inequity that exists in access to quality playspaces.

“Together with Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and Saint Paul Conservancy, we realize there is more work to do, especially in communities of color, and we are committed to ensuring every neighborhood in the city is designed for every kid to have a happy and healthy childhood.”

Click here for more information on KABOOM’!’s ’25 in 5′.

Author: Simon Weedy

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