ROC the Future, a member of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, has been selected to lead a playground project with KaBOOM!, the national nonprofit that works to ensure every kid and all communities have equitable access to quality, imaginative playspaces.

ROC the Future, in partnership with Common Ground Health’s Healthi Kids Initiative, is one of the three StriveTogether communities that will work with KaBOOM! to design a community playground to help close racial and socioeconomic gaps in kids’ access to great places to play and build civic infrastructure through a project model that brings diverse residents and organizations together for youth.

“Every kid deserves a safe, amazing place to play. ROC the Future believes in the value and importance of play to support cognitive and social building skills for children.  We are more than thrilled to be selected for this playground project to support children and look forward to breaking ground at a future site in the City of Rochester,” said Jackie Campbell, ROC the Future Alliance Director.  

Play is essential to the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of kids. It is the brain and body’s preferred way of learning. Increasing access to safe places to play in Rochester is the cornerstone of the PlayROCs campaign at Common Ground Health and this generous grant from KaBOOM! furthers the collective mission to make Rochester a truly playful city.

ROC the Future and Common Ground Health will work together to recruit volunteers from across the community as this project will involve staff, partners and over 200 community volunteers in the design, planning and installation of the playground before September 2020. The process will kick off with Design Day, where kids and families will come together to create the design specifications for an innovative, custom play space, and culminate with a day where hundreds of volunteers will build the playground. In between, partners and volunteers will work on a grassroots campaign to raise local matching funds and engage with elected officials and leaders.

"We can all agree that play is an essential part of childhood, and all kids should have opportunities to play as a matter of their human right," said Lysa Ratliff, Vice President of Partnership Development at KaBOOM!. "Research shows — what many parents know — that children learn through play. The more time they have to play outside with their peers, the more likely they are able to grow essential social, physical and cognitive skills that are so important for their future success. We are proud to partner with StriveTogether to bring this vision to life."

To be considered for this opportunity, StriveTogether communities engaged in key activities at the Cradle to Career Network Convening, including providing feedback on StriveTogether’s new racial equity statement and plan and participating in the #SuccessTogether campaign. #SuccessTogether asks youth across the nation to share what success looks like and creates a positive conversation about the impact of the Cradle to Career Network.

“StriveTogether shares the belief with KaBOOM! that the well-being of communities starts with the well-being of kids,” StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “Creating shared spaces fosters community pride and helps close the racial and socioeconomic gaps that deny many children great places to play. Local change is possible when the community unites around a common vision for families and kids.”