PlayBuild is a nonprofit

that encourages kids aged 4 to 12 to learn about design and architecture through innovative play activities. After participating in the PitchNOLA Lots of Progress Competition in 2012, PlayBuild launched into action. The organization entered a blighted neighborhood in Central City and converted a lot into an outdoor alternative play space and classroom. Now, the core program is grounded at 2828 Thalia St., where children gather for field trips and in after-school programs. Charlotte Jones, Mariana Oldenburg, Angela Kyle and Leslie and Sam Davol make up the PlayBuild team.

PlayBuild’s current playground setup serves as an architectural learning lab. With an Imagination Playground kit from the KaBOOM! organization, children can take charge of their play environment with mobile, manipulable equipment. The unique, sturdy foam blocks that make up this kit allow children to create a new playground every time they visit PlayBuild. While this setup has already been a big hit, the organization has future plans for putting in decking and seating for parents, as well as a basic kitchen facility.

Because PlayBuild’s unique playground equipment is modular and portable, the organization can set up “popup” events at the French Market, Armstrong Park and local festivals to bring PlayBuild into more of the community. Furthermore, parents at these events have thanked the PlayBuild staff for setting up a fun, creative space that encourages learning for children.

PlayBuild will also take part in private events on a limited basis, such as birthday parties. They bring the equipment to any location, which provides a fun, educational experience for a group of children on a smaller scale.

The LEGO Foundation and Ashoka Changemakers recently sponsored the Re-Imagine Learning Challenge to present ideas at the intersection of play and learning. When PlayBuild made it to the semifinal round of this global competition – the only organization from New Orleans to do so – it validated their hard work. Furthermore, PlayBuild was recently awarded a Jazz & Heritage Foundation grant to launch a summer school program in 2015. Registration for the program will begin this spring.

Global awards aside, Angela Kyle notes that seeing the “smiles on kids’ faces” is the most powerful part of her work with PlayBuild. Parents and teachers have also responded very positively to the children’s reactions to this innovative play space.

PlayBuild has more demand than they can meet at the present time, and the organization welcomes volunteers. Furthermore, donations are always appreciated.  

For more information and to get involved, visit