Isn’t it great when you read a book and you find yourself thinking about it long after you’ve finished the last page? Darrel Hammond’s book, KaBOOM! How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play, is one of those reads.
First, we should say, we have known Darrel for a long time. He is a loveable freight train of a guy who founded KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit that provides communities with tools, resources, and guidance to build and renovate playgrounds and playspaces. We met and worked with Darrel over a decade ago when KaBOOM! was a one-room organization but had a skyscraper full of ideas and promise. Today, the organization has raised almost $200 million and built 2,000 playgrounds with a million volunteers, and made an everlasting impression on kids and families everywhere. And we now have the privilege of having Darrel serve on the YesKidzCan! Advisory Board.
We promise you that we are not touting this book because we know Darrel. We are sharing it with you because the messages it conveys go way beyond the importance of giving kids access to fun and safe places to play. The book challenges you to think differently about yourself, to reflect on how you can contribute to society, to remember that inspiration can come in unexpected and unconventional forms, and to work really, really hard for your goals.
Darrel did not have a traditional upbringing as the book chronicles. He grew up in a group home with his seven brothers and sisters. He did not follow a fairytale path to discover his calling. He had some missteps and some self doubt but he channeled these experiences into true learning opportunities that helped him keep an open mind and take leaps of faith on more than one occasion. His unvarnished retelling of his lessons learned should serve as a handbook for many of us. And it also goes a long way that 100% of the author’s proceeds benefits KaBOOM!
So what’s the most memorable part of the book? It could be the vivid stories about the dedicated volunteers in rain and extreme temperatures who made the playground builds a success. It could be the joy Darell describes in the kids’ reactions when they learn that they get to design their community’s playspace. But in the end, what surprised us most was we found ourselves not only wishing that children everywhere could race around their new play spaces with unbridled exuberance and joyful commitment. We also found ourselves wishing that we as adults — in pursuing all our hopes and dreams for our families and our communities — could and should do the same!
© YesKidzCan!, 2011