kaboom photoStudents at six New Orleans elementary schools will soon have new places to swing, slide and play, after 1,500 volunteers gather in a one-day blitz to erect playgrounds for nearly 36,000 New Orleans children. 1,000 of the volunteers are employees of Fannie Mae and will be taking a day from their national conference in New Orleans to spread happiness to the local kids. The playgrounds were designed by the schools’ own students in December.

The grander vision is called Operation Playground, an initiative by KaBOOM! to build 100 student-designed play areas in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf region. KaBOOM! has built 19 playgrounds in New Orleans to date, each one designed by the children who will use it, planned by local residents and built entirely by volunteers.

The six newest playgrounds are funded by a $400,000 grant from Fannie Mae. The construction on February 13 will also include building picnic tables, benches, shade structures and landscaping.

“Children dream the darndest things, and the folks at Fannie Mae are thrilled to help KaBOOM! build these new kid-designed playgrounds in New Orleans,” said Fannie Mae President and CEO Dan Mudd. “Our volunteers and funds are just a small part of our big, long-term commitment to help the region rebuild and renew. We’ve been here for years, we’ve been here through the aftermath, and we’re here for the long haul.”

Planning began in December, when students met with organizers from KaBOOM! and Fannie Mae to draw their “dream” playgrounds. The children’s drawings were used to create the final playground designs and teachers, parents helped plan volunteer recruitment, site preparation and safety/logistics.

The six playground sites set to be completed by Fannie Mae and Operation Playground are Martin Behrman Elementary Charter School, John Dibert School, McDonogh #32 Charter Elementary School, Benjamin Banneker School, Einstein Charter School and Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.

To date Fannie Mae has distributed over $6 million dollars in disaster relief efforts to local nonprofits, government agencies and other organizations.

“The children in New Orleans have displayed incredible strength in the face of unimaginable adversity, said Darell Hammond, CEO and co-founder, KaBOOM!. “We need to give them places where they can just be kids again. For Fannie Mae to demonstrate this level of commitment to helping New Orleans children and the city rebuild is truly remarkable.”

KaBOOM! began as a nonprofit group that envisioned a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Over the past decade, KaBOOM! has brought communities together with businesses to build more than 1,100 new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America. Check out the KaBOOM! website to learn how to plan a new playspace in your own neighborhood. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago, Atlanta and San Mateo, CA.

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