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People in blue shirts working together to paint a building's exterior.

A new play space built for Uvalde, by Uvalde

Rome may not have been built in a day, but, fueled by free gorditas and shaved ice, the multi-sport court at Uvalde Dual Language Academy was.

Volunteers from all walks of life—teachers, lawyers, National Guard members, the principal—recently gathered at the Uvalde, Texas, school for a KABOOM! Build Day, a joyful daylong burst of activity that left the school with the new court, bleachers, picnic tables, a shaded sitting area, bright murals, and a vegetable garden.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) was proud to support the upgrades at the school through a grant to KABOOM!, and we were honored to be able to take part in the Build Day. 60 volunteers helped transform some 2,500 square feet into welcoming space for 630 kids to play.

The sport court at Uvalde Dual Language Academy is one of 13 play spaces KABOOM! is helping build around Uvalde to help contribute to the physical and mental health of children in the city as it continues to recover from the horrific mass shooting that took place there in 2022.

KABOOM!’s model prioritizes working together with communities and letting local stakeholders lead the way, stakeholders like Uvalde Dual Language Academy’s beloved PE teacher, who has for years championed the creation of new play spaces in Uvalde.

“Playspaces are where nothing else matters,” said Uvalde Dual Language Academy Teacher, Norma Jean Sandoval. “Kids can play freely and laugh together outside of a structured classroom environment. This new playspace will allow them some much needed fun and relaxation from what’s happening in the world around them.”

Volunteers from the local community actively participate in the construction of each of KABOOM!’s projects, giving them an unparalleled sense of ownership and pride in the communal spaces created. Several volunteers at the recent Build Day have participated in all five of the KABOOM! projects that have taken shape in Uvalde so far, and local eateries stepped up to donate the food that kept the volunteers going.

KABOOM! prepares extensively for each Build Day, laying the necessary groundwork, both literal and metaphorical, for the build to be completed in a single day. The hope is that one intense yet joyful day can create space for years of joy ahead.