NEW YORK, May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — JetBlue Airways (Nasdaq: JBLU), New York’s Hometown Airline™, today announced a commitment to build three playgrounds in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Dozens of cities in New York and New Jersey are still struggling to rebuild. With essential infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and roads being the primary focus, playgrounds and play spaces take a lower priority. Following natural disasters, play becomes even more critical as it creates a sense of normalcy and provides an emotional outlet for kids. In an effort to support the affected children, JetBlue has extended its pledge to rebuild New York with a commitment to build three playgrounds during 2013 in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
JetBlue’s first post-Hurricane Sandy playground build will take place on May 18 at Magnolia Playground in Long Beach, NY. Long Beach, located in Nassau County, Long Island, experienced significant damage to its shoreline and infrastructure. This playground was destroyed nearly six months ago and hundreds of children living in the area have not had a suitable place to play since Hurricane Sandy. A lack of play has profound physical, social and cognitive consequences on children. While playgrounds are important for all children, they’re vital for kids who need to de-stress and work through traumatic events. Two more builds will be announced later this Spring.
“Through our longstanding partnership with KaBOOM!, we work together to create playgrounds in neighborhoods that are lacking resources. This year, we are concentrating our efforts to rebuild play spaces that were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy,” said Michael Stromer, vice president of customer connections marketing at JetBlue Airways. “Long Beach and Nassau County are right in our backyard. We have many crewmembers and customers who live there and have been directly impacted by the storm. Rebuilding in these communities is particularly important to JetBlue. We are simply supporting our neighbors.”
While every KaBOOM! playground build is an inspiring event, the post-Hurricane Sandy builds will give volunteers a special chance to reflect on the storm’s impact while revitalizing their neighborhoods. More than 200 volunteers from JetBlue, the City of Long Beach, Surf For All, KaBOOM! and residents of the local community will join forces to build a new play space at Magnolia Playground. The new playground’s design is based on drawings created by children who participated in a Design Day event in March.
“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we’ve received a tremendous outpouring of support,” said Eileen J. Goggin, city council member for the city of Long Beach. “Magnolia Playground has been a popular city park for decades, and we are so appreciative of our wonderful sponsors and dedicated volunteers who are so generously assisting us with this terrific rebuilding project.”
“Every child deserves to have a great place to play and I’m proud that JetBlue and KaBOOM! are joining together with the community to build the children of Long Beach a terrific new playground,” said Darell Hammond, founder and CEO at KaBOOM! “It is absolutely critical for children to have an emotional outlet in a time of tragedy and there is no substitute for a great playground.”
Magnolia Playground is the 17th playground build by KaBOOM! in partnership with JetBlue. The two have worked together over the last seven years to create safe play spaces for children in underserved neighborhoods and areas rebuilding following natural disasters. This partnership has successfully engaged more than 3,800 volunteers, benefitting more than 10,000 children. JetBlue Airways is a KaBOOM! National Partner, providing long-term guidance and support to KaBOOM! and its mission.
Since Hurricane Sandy, JetBlue has coordinated several efforts to provide assistance to its neighbors and crewmembers and help rebuild communities in New York. Just last month, JetBlue made significant progress in revitalizing Highland Park in Brooklyn. Airline crewmembers and community volunteers planted more than 2,500 trees in an area identified by the New York City Parks Department as a priority location for revitalization efforts. The 100-acre park lost a significant stretch of trees due to Hurricane Sandy. Additionally, in the days following the storm, JetBlue partnered with the NYC Food Truck Association to serve more than 25,000 meals to residents in impacted areas. The airline’s customers also donated $720,000 through JetBlueGives.org to support the relief and recovery efforts of impacted communities. JetBlue matched the first $100,000 bringing the grand total to $820,000.
About City of Long Beach
The City of Long Beach is one of only two cities on Long Island, and it currently has a population of about 35,000 people spread across two square miles of land surrounded by water. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Reynolds Channel on the other, Long Beach is a beautiful seaside community. In winter and summer, one can find strollers, joggers, and bicycle riders along the 2¼-mile oceanfront boardwalk. The adjacent beach is a 3.5 mile stretch of pure white sand, open to the public year round. For more information about Long Beach, please visitlongbeachny.gov or contact the City’s public relations department at 516-431-1000 ext. 7216 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to giving kids the childhood they deserve by bringing play to those who need it most. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, a fact that is having disastrous consequences on their health, achievement levels, and overall well-being. Social entrepreneur Darell Hammond founded non-profit KaBOOM! in 1996 in Washington, D.C. with a vision of creating a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America because children need to play actively every day at home, in school and in their communities. Since then, KaBOOM! has mapped over 90,000 places to play, built more than 2,200 playgrounds, and successfully advocated for play policies in hundreds of cities across the country. KaBOOM! also provides communities with online tools to self-organize and take action to support play on both a local and national level. Hammond chronicles the founding of the organization and the importance of the cause of play in his The New York Times Best Seller KaBOOM!: A Movement to Save Play, now out in paperback. The book details how businesses and communities can work together to save play for children across the country. All author proceeds support KaBOOM!. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has an office in San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.
About JetBlue Airways
JetBlue is New York’s Hometown Airline™ with other focus cities in Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles (Long Beach), San Juan and Orlando. Known for its award-winning service and free inflight entertainment as much as its low fares, JetBlue offers the most legroom in coach of any U.S. airline (based on average fleet-wide seat pitch) as well as super-spacious Even More Space seats. JetBlue is also America’s first and only airline to offer its own Customer Bill of Rights, with meaningful and specific compensation for customers inconvenienced by service disruptions within JetBlue’s control. Visit www.jetblue.com/promise for details. JetBlue serves 77 cities with 800 daily flights and plans to launch service to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Worcester, Massachusetts; Medellin, Colombia, in 2013 as well as Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Lima, Peru, subject to receipt of government operating authority. With JetBlue, all seats are assigned, all fares are one-way, and an overnight stay is never required. For information call 1-800-538-2583 (TTY/TDD 1-800-336-5530), or visit www.jetblue.com.