Best Public Works Project

KaBoom! playground at the Salvation Army Temple Corps Community Center

Playgrounds often serve as keystones for a community. A good, safe playground enhances the social and physical development of a community's children. A lack of good, safe playgrounds means a community of kids with idle hands and nowhere to go — which is far too often the case in St. Louis. But the tide is starting to turn, thanks to KaBOOM!, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that rallies residents and other volunteers to build new playgrounds. It's responsible for more than 2,000 across America over the last fifteen years, including three in East St. Louis in just the last three years. And the organization's largesse hasn't been limited to the east side of the river. In April, with funding from Energizer and support from local volunteers, KaBOOM! was able to build a new playground at the Salvation Army Corps Community Center in south city. As is normal for a KaBOOM! project, construction was completed in a single day, with more than 100 people donating their morning and early afternoon to get the job done. The immediate benefit of the playground movement is as clear as the smile of a kid going down a slide. But the long-term benefits are just as fulfilling: Every kid who grows up in a playground is a kid who doesn't grow up in the streets.

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