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KaBoom! Brand new playground rises

The 150 or so children who live in the Brand New Beginnings supportive housing complex near 58th and Michigan and others in the surrounding Washington Park community are receiving a brand new playground thanks partly to NCP.

Photo: Ed Finkel

This purple slide spent part of a day waiting bolted to a wooden palette, but that will prove to be the calm before the storm of children who will enjoy it in the years to come.

Brand New Beginnings, which provides permanent housing for formerly homeless women who have faced challenges like domestic violence and substance abuse, worked in tandem with NCP lead agency The Washington Park Consortium, the office of Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), and the nonprofit group KaBoom!, which works to build playgrounds in underserved areas.

The playground will provide a safe place for children at Brand New Beginnings to play when their mothers are busy meeting with mentors who help them look for jobs and start businesses, self-esteem counselors who help them stay out of abusive situations, and drug-abuse counselors who help them maintain their sobriety.

“That’s the great thing about having a place for the children to play in safety,” said Della Mitchell, founder and executive director of Brand New Beginnings, which houses women who have at least two children and who have been drug-free for at least six months. “They can just go out the back and into the playground. We can have more security.”

Photo: Ed Finkel

This gigantic pile of wood chips waits to be wheelbarrowed into place in the new playground.

[The playground appeared almost out of nowhere during two days in early October. Volunteers and KaBoom! staff unloaded a huge mound of wood chips and plastic equipment like a purple slide that temporarily stood bolted to a wooden palette, and  they got busy with power tools and sawhorses in the next-door parking lot.

Across the alley, the consortium, alderman’s office and apartment complex have teamed to lay the groundwork for a community garden, where the women and children at Brand New Beginnings will tend individual plots starting next spring.

“By next year, we’ll have a playground and a garden, and happy kids and happy community residents,” said Brandon Johnson, executive director of the Washington Park Consortium.

The playground is the 94th that KaBoom! has helped to build in Chicago in the past decade, said Mila Liachenko, associate client service coordinator, who couldn’t say exactly how many have been in NCP neighborhoods.

Photo: Gordon Walek

This playground in Oakland is among the 94 built in Chicago in the past decade thanks to the nonprofit group Kaboom!

“We very much would like to work with LISC affiliates,” she said. “We think it’s a great match for us. The doors are always open.”

Liachenko can be reached at (202) 464-6168 or

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