KaBoom! to Build New Playground for Children in Newtown Square, Pa.

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Before the sun sets on Saturday, the hundreds of children who come to the TALK Institute School and Camp Garrett in Newtown Square will receive a great new place to play.

The new playground will be fully assembled from scratch in less than eight hours with the help of more than 200 volunteers from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, TALK Institute School and the Garrett Williamson Foundation, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the local community. Volunteers will gather for a kickoff ceremony at 8:30 a.m. and will complete the playground project in time for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2:30 p.m.

“KaBOOM! playground builds inspire residents to put their passion for their community into action, furthering Knight Foundation’s focus on informed and engaged communities,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Philadelphia program director for Knight Foundation. “We hope the interest sparked on this playground drives residents to become engaged in future efforts to better their community.”

Currently, the children only have a small playground for children ages 2-5 to play on. Planning for the playground began at a Design Day event held in May when local children and community leaders met with organizers from KaBOOM! and Knight Foundation to design their dream playground. The children's drawings were then used to create the final playground design.

“TALK is incredibly grateful to our partners in this venture and the entire community for helping us realize a long-time dream,” said Melinda Kotler, Executive Director of TALK Institute and School. “Play is a critical part of development for all children, but it is exponentially more important for youngsters affected by communication disorders. We now understand that significant sensory, motor and associated social-emotional deficits underlie the challenges these youngsters face. Play plays an integral role in children learning to share interaction and communicate with each other. To some this may be just a great playground. At TALK, we view it as a highly sophisticated piece of therapeutic equipment, which will help our children make great strides in their language, cognition and social skills. We are thrilled to have it.”

“The Garrett-Williamson Foundation of Newtown Square is honored to accept and host a community built playground on its historic colonial grounds,” said James Short, Executive Director of the Garrett Williamson Foundation. “We are proud to be one of the few who have been granted with an Imagination Playground in a Box. With our mission to serve single working mothers and provide to the under-served children of today, we are now able to create a safe place, where play and imagination can be created forever leaving lasting memories to our ‘Garrett’s Way Learning Center’ children and our ‘Camp Garrett’ campers. Our property has extended itself to the community in various ways over the decades, however this one-day built playground will forever mark a bond between a non-profit organization and the power of its community.”

The playground is one of 13 to be built by KaBOOM! and Knight Foundation this year, and one of more than 150 builds KaBOOM! will lead across the country in 2010 in an effort to provide a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.

In addition to the community-built playground, the new play area will also include an Imagination Playground in a Box – a breakthrough playspace concept designed by architect David Rockwell to encourage child-directed, unstructured free play. Complete with custom designed blue foam blocks and other loose parts, and elements that encourage sand and water play, Imagination Playground in a Box allows children to constantly reconfigure their environment and design their own course of play.

About TALK Institute and School
The TALK Institute and School is the nation's most progressive center for the education of children with autism and language disorders. As teachers, therapists and researchers we are at the forefront of a new, more accurate and person-centered understanding of autism -- one that presents autism as a sensory-based movement disorder profoundly affecting language, social interaction and praxis. Our two-fold mission is addressed through our research institute and our school. The TALK Institute seeks out and creates innovative treatment strategies and conducts research to establish new standards and best practices in treating speech and language disorders. TALK School provides the intensive, integrated academic instruction and therapeutic interventions essential to children currently coping with disabling speech and language disorders (without regard to race, creed or color). TALK Institute and School is located on the bucolic campus of the Garrett Williamson Foundation in Newtown Square, PA. To learn more please visit www.talkinc.org.

About Garrett Williamson Foundation
The Garrett Williamson Foundation provides quality educational and recreational programs for children. The Foundation owns and operates Garrett’s Way childcare and learning center serving infants 8 weeks of age through Kindergarten and Camp Garrett summer day camp serving youth age 5 through 13. Our beautiful 240-acre colonial farm property in Newtown Square is the perfect setting for picnics and special occasions for groups of all sizes. We are conveniently located at 395 Bishop Hollow Rd., Newtown Square Delaware County. At Camp Garrett we provide programming giving each child the opportunity to develop to his or her fullest potential. We provide exciting and interesting activities that enhance not only physical development, but social, emotional and intellectual development as well. And at Garrett's Way, we strive to create an atmosphere that allows the total child to develop. We offer year round educational programs for Infants, Toddlers, and Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten children. We provide a caring and secure learning environment with a developmentally appropriate curriculum and qualified teachers. Our activities are and geared toward the individual needs, abilities and interests of each child in order to promote a positive outlook on the learning process.  www.garrettwilliamson.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

About KaBOOM!
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play. Through community building, the company is focused on giving every child in America a great place to play within walking distance. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has used its innovative community-build model to bring together business and community interests to construct more than 1,700 new playgrounds, skate parks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America. KaBOOM! also offers a variety of resources, including an online community, free online trainings, grants, publications and the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play, which includes Playful City USA and Playmakers – a national network of individual advocates for play. KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.

About Imagination Playground LLC
Imagination Playground is a breakthrough playspace concept designed to encourage child-directed, unstructured “free play,” the kind of play that experts say is critical to a child’s intellectual, social, physical and emotional development. With a focus on loose parts, complimented by a manipulable environment and Play Associates, it offers a changing array of elements that allow children to constantly reconfigure their environment and to design their own course of play. Giant foam blocks, mats, wagons, fabric and crates overflow with creative potential for children to play, dream, build and explore endless possibilities. Imagination Playground was conceived and designed by internationally acclaimed architect David Rockwell. His firm, Rockwell Group, has partnered with KaBOOM!, the leading national non-profit organization dedicated to bringing play to kids everywhere. Through this mission-driven partnership, we are committed to bringing Imagination Playground to communities across the country. For more information, visit www.imaginationplayground.org.

CONTACT:        Vince Gutierrez, Garrett-Williamson Foundation, 856-524-2669, events@garrettwilliamson.org
                        Louise Saruk, TALK Institute and School, 484-995-7039, lsaruk@comcast.net
                        Marc Fest, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, fest@knightfoundation.org
                        Mike Vietti, KaBOOM!, 202-464-6076, mvietti@kaboom.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.