Yvonne: “The first time I stepped into the KaBOOM! office in Washington DC in May last year, I remember like it was yesterday.” President of Yalp INC, Yvonne Overmaat, wrote a blog about her first experience with KaBOOM! and how Playground in One Day was originated.
Yvonne: The first thing I thought was: “How can an office 4,000 miles away from ours on a different continent have the exact same weird color combination we have?” With a big smile, the receptionist beckoned me to come over and while glancing at the inviting tire swing behind her and the orange and purple office, I felt right at home. Actually, I felt more like a student on an exciting field trip than a business executive on a mission during the office tour. What this organization strives for is so close to YALP’s vision. I was given its founder, Darell Hammond’s, book: KaBOOM! How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play and turned the last page before I touched down in Amsterdam.
With a graduate degree in business administration and ten years of experience in the play industry, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all KaBOOM!’s audacious dreams and what they had been up against. It resembled many similar things YALP has been up against, especially with the development of our interactive play equipment. We still battle some of the same objections we faced over a decade ago. “Will a piece including technology hold up in my market?” for example, or “As soon as the kids have figured out how to play a certain game, it won’t stay fun anymore…” or “What if it rains?”
But it all starts with a dream. Indeed an audacious dream. One that our finder, Ben Admiraal, certainly had: “What if we could combine modern technology with outdoor play?”
“It only takes a single spark to start a fire,” is a phrase you’ll read on one of KaBOOM!’s office walls. After my visit, there had certainly been a spark. I wanted to be a part of this and on Saturday the 27th of October 2018, I was lucky enough to participate in a KaBOOM! Build Day at the Burnett Elementary School in Houston. To see all the planning, effort and excitement of all the volunteers who made that playground possible that day gave me enough energy for weeks! And I am sure I told a colleague… or two… and the rest of the Management Team.
At YALP, a single spark is enough to start a wildfire. We wanted to do something impossible and incredibly cool. We wanted a location to be more than just another cool playground and together you are stronger. So in May we met with the Krajicek Foundation and the audacious dream for our “Playground in One Day” was launched. Four months later, 50 YALP employees and many volunteers started at 7am at the site and a huge playground was finished by the end of the day. A beautiful day. A day during which our installers were the real hero’s. Looking at all of our orange shirts, seeing everybody sweating and working towards the same goal, our vendors working alongside our sales reps and our installers telling our managers what to do. There was something going on everywhere. It was like the activity in giant beehive (I imagine). It was awesome!
An interactive ball wall Sutu, an educational play set Memo, an interactive sports court Toro, a huge traditional piece in a natural look, a work out zone for the elderly, a freerun parcours, bootcamp equipment and of course a very long zip line! The looks on the faces of all the neighborhood children… and on those of my three who, of course, came to marvel at our wonder.
Opened by the city alderman Jurgen van Houdt, Krajicek Foundation director Gerlinde van Raalte and Yalp founder Ben Admiraal, we really made the impossible possible at this location. The best thing about it, is that the Krajicek Foundation will support several of what they refer to as Krajicek ‘scholarshippers’ at this site. In return for a small scholarship, carefully selected youngsters that live in the neighborhood will be responsible for organizing sport and play events at the site. Together with a sports manager from the municipality who also provides PA classes for the adjacent school. All the while, the Mulier Institute will conduct a full scale research to measure the impact of this terrific site so we’ll be able to tell what the exact value creation will be.
The foreword of KaBOOM!’s book is written by someone I was very lucky to meet several times now over the last three years. Stuart Brown’s (Founder and President of The National Institute for Play) ended his foreword stating that: One very ordinary, non-privileged person has the power to fundamentally organize and connect us to our survival-based reliance on play and community.
I can’t help to think that one very ordinary YALP team fundamentally connected all parties at the Boswinkel Playground in Enschede which will make a huge impact for many years!
I wonder… what wildfire will start our next spark?
Written by: Yvonne Overmaat, President Yalp INC.