The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Aiken, Belk, and KABOOM! Work to End Playspace Inequity with a New Playground in Aiken, South Carolina
The new playspace will bring joy to hundreds of kids after months of playground closures
(Aiken, South Carolina – August 2020) – Kids at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Aiken are celebrating because, at the end of August, they will have a great new place to play. For months, representatives from the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, Belk and KABOOM!, the nonprofit organization focused on ending playspace inequity, have been working together to increase access to playspaces for local kids with the creation of a new, kid-designed playground that will be installed the week of August 24. The playground will give kids an incredible place to play close to where they live and learn, an opportunity that is often hard to achieve. This project has garnered the support of local community members and businesses. D.R. Horton, Lowe’s, and JE Stewart Builders have generously donated their time and resources to prepare the site for the new playground.
The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club provides a safe, exciting environment for the kids of Aiken whose families all too often face structural barriers to success. Ninety-five percent of the families in the community live at or below the poverty line, and community members have little access to family geared activities if they do not have transportation. Samantha Cheatham, executive director of the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Aiken says, “We feel having a playground built especially for our community, with their needs in mind, would provide hope and build stronger families for the future. Children would have a safe and healthy option to occupy their time and energy. We feel passionate about providing quality programs in a healthy family-friendly atmosphere.”
In March, kids from the community participated in a Design Day where they thought of ideas to create their dream playground. The new playground, which was designed with inspiration from their drawings, will provide hundreds of kids and their families in Aiken with an incredible playspace that can spark hope and enable kids to reach their full potential.
KABOOM! knows that playspaces are essential to resilience, health and childhood, and the communities who have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 – communities facing challenges already, and communities of color – are the same communities who often lack access to parks and playspaces due to historic disinvestment. The partners have teamed up to help end playspace inequity, creating a new place for kids to play that reflects the neighborhood’s unique needs and aspirations, and gives every kid the opportunity to experience the joys of childhood.
“We know disasters and crises often exacerbate the inequities that communities are already experiencing, and in many communities, kids won’t have a playground to go back to once the COVID-19 crisis is over,” says James Siegal, CEO of KABOOM!. “We must stop the playspace inequities from becoming even deeper after we get through this pandemic, giving every kid the chance to play and just enjoy being a kid.”
Through its partnership with Belk, KABOOM! is committed to ending playspace inequity for kids, for communities, for good. “Belk is deeply committed to giving back to the community. When we heard about the opportunity to provide an innovative, safe place for kids to play, grow and learn, we knew we wanted to be part of it,” says Elizabeth Cuthrell, Belk Aiken, S.C. store manager. “We’re so excited to be a part of this process and can’t wait for the kids of the Aiken Boys and Girls Club to enjoy their new playground!”
To ensure that playgrounds are able to open safely in every community, KABOOM! has issued important playground guidance that all communities, playground owner/operators and caregivers can follow. The guidance can be viewed or downloaded at kaboom.org/reopen.
About Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Aiken
The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Aiken offers a comprehensive youth development program both after school and throughout the summer. We build our programming around 5 core areas of personal development:
- Character and Leadership
- Education and Career
- Health and Life Skills
- The Arts
- Sports, Fitness and Recreation
By focusing on these core areas we help our members increase academic success, build good character and adopt healthy lifestyles.
Belk, Inc., a private department store company based in Charlotte, N.C., is where customers shop for their Saturday night outfit, the perfect Sunday dress, and where family and community matter most. But Belk is more than shopping – it’s where you find your own unique way to express who you are. Shop Belk in 16 states and on www.belk.com to find an assortment of national brands and private-label fashion, shoes and accessories for the entire family, along with top beauty brands and styles for the home
KABOOM! is the national non-profit that works to achieve playspace equity. Kids who don’t have access to play miss out on childhood and are denied critical opportunities to build physical, social and emotional health. And all too often, it more deeply affects communities of color. So we amplify the power of communities to build inspiring playspaces that spark unlimited opportunities for every kid, everywhere. KABOOM! has teamed up with partners to build or improve 17,000+ playspaces, engage more than 1.5 million community members and bring joy to more than 11 million kids.
To learn about our goal to end playspace inequity for good, visit kaboom.org and join the conversation at twitter.com/kaboom, facebook.com/kaboom and instagram.com/kaboom.