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Lysa Ratliff and KABOOM!

Lysa Ratliff and KABOOM!

In the fourth episode of Arabella Advisors’ new podcast series, Gwen Walden spoke to Lysa Ratliff, CEO of Kaboom!, about building relationships that transform communities and investing in the amazing potential of children. Here are some soundbites from their conversation: 


  • Telling our personal stories and sharing insights is really important; nothing better to talk about than childhood: 100 percent of who I am stems from my childhood.” 
  • [In my early playground days] I didn’t have the courage to jump off the swings like everyone else. [My friends] pumped me up, and I jumped off the swing and completely passed out! When I opened my eyes, I didn’t know how long I was out, and was sure I wasn’t doing that again. But then there’s my hype-squad, and they are cheering and telling me to go again. I never forget that. That lesson taught me how to take risks. One of the reasons I am in the position I am, is I am a big risk taker. […] That playground, those people, those kiddos, they are absolutely the foundation of who I am.”  
  • I came into this world with a lot of obstacles in my way. I grew up in government housing and I went to Head Start. […] But that created this human that has this love for life and love for people; and it I think is because my parents surrounded me with this amazing community. And they always told me, ‘whatever they can do, you can do better. There is always a solution. If you find your people, the world is yours for the taking. Despite the fact that I had these tough circumstances, I had this surround sound community that was so special.”  
  • “[When I had my daughter], it brought me back to my own childhood and how special and important it is for the people around you to pour their heart and soul into you. And so I decided to do something different; and I found non-profit and Habitat for Humanity. That exposed me to a life of giving and a life of service.”   
  • When my girls were around 10 and 14, and coming out of their childhood into their teen years, Kaboom! and I found each other. I remember looking at my girls and reflecting on how they were better than I ever was or ever will be; and I thought, ‘gosh the kids of the world are mine too’.” 
  • Though [Kaboom!]’s work has always been focused on where the need is greatest, we weren’t looking explicitly at naming the disparities, particularly racial disparities, on both access to play and how a kid feels safe and a sense of belonging in that play space. We have [now] made some pretty explicit commitments on closing the disparity gap and focusing our work.”  
  • Play is complementary with learning and all the things that are important for a child’s growth and wellbeing. Play is their currency, where they work out all the kinks and build relationships and take risks.” 


To hear more about Lysa’s story, the importance of childhood, the vitality of playand the chance we all have to help build a better future together, listen to Lysa’s full conversation with Gwen here.   

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