A new playground at Hamilton Elementary & Middle School. Photo courtesy of KABOOM!

National nonprofit KABOOM! on Tuesday announced Baltimore as the first official partner in a five-year, $250 million plan to achieve playspace equity throughout the country.

As part of the 25 in 5 Initiative to End Playspace Inequity, the nonprofit will partner with Baltimore City Public Schools and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks to ensure that children in Baltimore have access to places to play where they live. 

“Playgrounds profoundly impact our young people: they’re a place to sharpen skills that will serve them for a lifetime, build friendships, and feel a sense of belonging,” Mayor Brandon Scott said in a statement.

A 2019 analysis of Baltimore City Public School playgrounds by KABOOM! found that almost 40 elementary school playgrounds were not fit for play, and 50 percent of playgrounds surveyed are in need of improvements or replacement. 

In February, Mayor Brandon Scott announced that the city will put $41 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds towards improving the city’s recreation infrastructure. As part of the city’s partnership with KABOOM!, the city will work with the nonprofit to identify where there is the greatest need for the funding. 

“For decades, segregation, disinvestment, and depopulation have forced Baltimore city leaders to make seemingly impossible choices about where to invest in playgrounds – iconic and critical public infrastructure for every child,” said KABOOM! CEO Lysa Ratliff in a statement. 

“Alongside City Schools, BCRP, Mayor Scott, and our network of committed partners, we can drive the positive systemic change necessary to ensure that every kid in Baltimore has an amazing place to play, learn, and unlock their greatest potential,” she said.