Worcester Common Ground a Winner in KaBOOM! $1 Million Play Everywhere Challenge!
Competition will fund play spaces in unexpected places in cities across America
This week, Worcester Common Ground (WCG) was selected as one of the winners in the Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million national competition that will award innovative ideas to make
play easy, available and fun for kids and families in cities across the U.S.
The Challenge is hosted by
KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.
Worcester Common Ground created an arts-based placemaking intervention made up of three components:
The first is “Project
Tire Makeover,” a series of school workshops and community paint days to paint tires with playful
character designs (magical creatures, superheroes, animals, etc).
The second component is a community
chalkboard at our Tot Lot playground. This will be a long-term installation with rotating prompts, including: “What is your superpower?” and “Design your dream neighborhood.” The final component will be chalk spray painted pathways connecting the playful tires and the community chalkboard installations
with prompts such as jump like a frog, fly like a plan, spin three times, etc.
Our program Piedmont Plays:
A Campaign to Love Your Neighborhood was selected as one of 50 winners out of a pool of more than 1,000 applications nationwide. Other winning ideas include outside-the-box play opportunities like pop-up parks, laundry mat theaters, and running tracks with speed displays.
The Challenge, developed in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Target, Playworld,
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts, attracted an outpouring of creative ideas to spark kids’ imaginations and get their bodies moving.
“Ultimately, we hope to see our program increase opportunities for playful imagination, and empower our
youngest residents to think in creative ways about improving their community,” said Charise Canales, Community Organizer at Worcester Common Ground.
Research shows play is vital to healthy brain development and is pivotal to how kids learn problem-solving, conflict resolution, and creativity – in other words, the skills they need to succeed as adults.
Yet today, too many kids, especially those growing up in poverty, are missing out on opportunities for play
because of families’ time pressures, the lure of screens, and a lack of safe places to go.
“It’s an exciting time for our agency to see such energy building for arts-based placemaking in our city! This summer, we finished our Project Comic Style mural at our 133 Chandler Street property with our youth artist group, Urban Revival BlaQ Ink’d; we saw POW! WOW! Worcester transform the downtown area with a series of stunning murals; and now we are fortunate to have been awarded a grant with KaBOOM! to involve our city’s youngest residents in the beautification of their public spaces.
For us, it’s so rewarding to let our kids take the lead in reimagining and transforming their communities into a
fun, funky place to make their own. We can’t wait to see what they do!” said Charise Canales.
Clark University to host artist talk, mural exhibit
950 Main St.
Clark University will host artist Erica Daborn for a presentation, “Dialogues with Mother Earth: The Murals,” at 12 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29, in the Higgins Lounge in Dana Commons.
The presentation is free and open to the public.
Daborn has taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston since 1995. Her work explores our interconnectedness and mutual fate as citizens of a shared planet — a finite, fragile, and ever-changing “home.”
Her series of mural-sized narrative drawings in charcoal record fictitious historical events related to climate change as seen from the year 2051.
“I consider the project to be a response to accelerating and irrefutable evidence of climate change. My goal is to provoke a reflection on the relationship between our 21st century societal values and the ways in which they have contributed to the degradation of our environment,” wrote Daborn.
The murals will be on display in Clark’s Schiltkamp Gallery (in the Traina Center for the Arts, 92 Downing Street) and in the Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons from Monday, Sept. 26 through Thursday, Nov. 17.
An opening reception and gallery dialogue will be held at 4 p.m. on Wed., Sept. 28, in the Schiltkamp Gallery of the Traina Center for the Arts.
This exhibit is part of the Higgins School of Humanities’ fall dialogue symposium, “Home (De) Constructed.” It is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Schiltkamp Gallery, and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.