Discover what's possible
In 2016, KaBOOM launched the Play Everywhere Challenge to source the best ideas from across the US for creating playful cities and neighborhoods
They had over a thousand applications for community based projects that could inspire play for the kids that need it most. Since then, they've developed an extensive Playbook on how to create Play Spaces anywhere. The Playbook includes design guides for streets & sidewalks, parks & trails, transit & civic spaces. There are also multiple case studies that detail how this worked in various communities.
Here are just some of the winners that might inspire you in generating ideas for what's possible in your community!
Start with YOUR community
The best projects often come from within.
So, talk to kids and families in your community.
Find out how they play, as well as how they
move through their daily lives. What do they find
convenient, inviting, or inclusive? Understand
their needs, habits, and challenges, and identify
a problem you want to solve. At this point,
engage in conversations with community groups,
nonprofits, and local government, too. They may
have a perspective on the issue and ideas for
Build on what already exists
When possible, don’t start from scratch. What
does the community already have that can
support your play idea? Is there an underused
feature in the built environment? Or a community
group with the time, resources, or connections
to bring your idea to life? By keeping installations
affordable and low‑maintenance, you’ll increase
your odds of success—and enable replication
by a range of communities, supporting our vision
of inclusive play.
Involve your community partners throughout
the creative process. Test your ideas with kids
and families early and often, and adapt your
approach based on their feedback. Consider
building a prototype or pilot to see how people
react. Getting the right people to design with
you will lead to ideas that are truly inclusive and
reflective of the community.
Put your plan into action
This is the fun bit!! Getting to action!
Depending on what type of project you've decided to undertake in your community, you can find detailed design guides here that cover streets & sidewalks, parks & trails, transit & civic spaces etc. and detailed case studies that bring this work to life right across the US
Here are some general principles to keep in mind:
Embrace change and flexibility
What you end up building may not look like the
idea you had on day one. That’s normal—and
often good! Plans will evolve based on feedback
you get from the community. You may also
need to change your approach when faced with
barriers—perhaps to clear a liability concern,
or to convince a new partner. Focus on what is
essential to the impact you are trying to create
for kids, families, and your community, and be
flexible on the rest. Plus, there’s always room
for bigger and better next time.
Anticipate issues you’ll face down the line and
factor them into your initial planning. Who
will handle maintenance and how much will it
cost? Will you want to replicate this installation
someday? By confronting these questions early
on, you’ll start devising creative solutions that can
strengthen the long‑term viability of your project.
Encourage members of the community to take
ownership of the installation. Try to secure this
commitment prior to your build. Identifying a
“host” who is responsible for maintenance can
help ensure the space you’ve created remains as
inviting and enlivening as you intended. Informal,
collective efforts—such as a neighborhood
watch or community policing—can also
make a difference.