In poor communities the pent-up demand for spaces to play results in young people turning to television or video games, or worse, to gangs and drug abuse. And now Darell is seizing the historical moment to move beyond playgrounds to institutionalize the "right to play" for every child.
As an Ashoka Fellow, Darell is shifting the
playground industry to focus on children's needs. Research shows that
95 percent of a child's character is formed before 5, and play is a
crucial part of this process of character development. In the play
environment, children learn motor skills, social interaction, and
creativity. It is therefore critical that each child have access to an
interactive play environment that is both safe and stimulating.
Darell sees play as a fundamental right. Indeed, he maintains that play should be a expectation for every child. His organization KaBOOM! has led to the construction of 500 new playgrounds and improved more than 1,500 others since it was founded in 1995. But there are thousands of neighborhoods where children still have no access to adequate, safe play spaces. What makes Darell's model work in neighborhoods where there are no active Parent Teacher Associations or parents to raise money to build playgrounds is that he forms partnerships between local communities and corporations to build safe and fun playgrounds for children.