This is what I've been hearing consistently in all my circles. First... THANK YOU for following along, supporting and making connections on KOOP's behalf. The growth of this movement in the community will always be in response to community support and need. Stay with us--- we still have lots of work to do.
KOOP has grown big, but it is also growing deep, which means so much more. This "radical" idea that children are capable, competent and worthy of high regard has felt true and right in my heart for so long but has underpinned how I've lived my life for the last 7 years, including 4 years ago when KOOP officially began. This month is one of anniversaries and of reflection but is also one of forward thinking, vision-casting and hustling in preparation of summer when we run at 100 miles per hour for 100 days-- give or take-- serving the children and families of this community. This is truly a labor of love.
True to my way of thinking, here is a quick list of what's happening right now:
1. Summer Camp: Our crown jewel. Truly, summer camp holds one of largest parts of my KOOP- heart and each day is so full of love, wonder, play and curiosity. We receive excited children from all parts of the community and invite them into this safe space where all aspects of their development, their history, interests, needs and parts of themselves come out, are supported and grow--- all through play: what children need and use to work through their lives. This space is sacred. Sign up, I'd love to meet your kiddos and share this work with you.
2. Urbana Arts & Culture Grant: We received a grant to again bring pop- up adventure playgrounds to Urbana neighborhoods all summer long. More on this soon, but get excited, because we are making leaps and bounds towards our goal of weaving play throughout this community. This will allow us to bounce around and meet new folks but also have a sustained presence in 2 neighborhoods for whom play provision is lacking.
Speaking of this, we've been approached by a couple neighborhood groups who want to pool together to sponsor their neighborhood and host a pop-up with us. Or maybe your company wants to donate to fund an event for a neighborhood or housing development in need. Let us know if you're interested! We're not really doing parties per se, but communities coming together for play--- we're there.
3. Community Drive for Loose Parts: "Do you take donations?" YES. Always. But this spring as we gear up for a FULL summer we're bringing you in on the process of scavenging that we usually do solo. We'll come pick up your junk and give it a second life... it's sustainability and play and helping a small non-profit out. We'll probably also have a drop-off spot open that may or may not include a pop-up :) We'll accept all your help in sourcing materials for our summer FULL of free family fun using open ended materials, called Loose Parts--- we need you! More soon, but here's the event to stay informed: https://www.facebook.com/events/290989365124007/
4. Regional Reach: We are now talking to amazing folks in all directions: Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis. When we started 4 years ago, we were alone in this area of the country! We're so thrilled that with the support of Pop- Up Adventure Play, we're connecting with others, we're being sought out from groups around the country and we're working on how to best offer our support.
5. Sharing this work: So much of this work is awareness and advocacy. I recently spoke at the Playful by Design Symposium at UIUC and in June, I will speak at a conference in Indianapolis. In between I'll visit other groups as well--- Rotary groups, PTA's, city councils, meetings with change-makers... where would you like to see me? Where could KOOP fit next? We want to do it all. Get in touch.
6. Public Schools: We were invited to offer 1 hour, 1 day a week at a local public school as an "enrichment" activity after school.... how can we maximize this reach? How can we push play back into schools where it has been squeezed out? The answer most certainly involves parents asking for/working towards it with the support of teachers and administration. We're here for you and need your "in". Email us. KOOPAdventurePlayground@gmail.com
7. Board Development: We've been working together to bond, grow, look to the future and create a sustainable plan for this community and beyond. We recently held a board retreat and we have dedicated folks helping push KOOP forward in big ways. We're so appreciative for the service and support from the board! We'll add 2 more members to our board this fall, so think on it and reach out in August if you want to chat. We have big plans and many hands make the work light. Plus, we're an organization rooted in play... so it's fun to do this work!
That's "all" over here. :) More soon, some things aren't ready for public consumption yet!