June 2, 2017
Jun 02

Too Small to Fail and Shane’s Inspiration team up with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks to open “Rocket’s Universe” playground

Press Release

“Rocket’s Universe” marks the 22nd “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” themed playground to be launched nationally

Los Angeles, Calif.—  Today, Too Small to Fail – a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and Opportunity Institute – Shane’s Inspiration, Landscape Structures Inc., and the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks will cut the ribbon to officially open “Rocket’s Universe” playground.

The playground, located in North Weddington Park at 10844 Acama St. in North Hollywood, is the 64th inclusive playground developed by Shane’s Inspiration, and the 22nd “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” themed playground nationally created through a partnership with Too Small to Fail. The playground, which is astronomy-themed, features panels and signage with language-rich conversation prompts for parents and children to promote early STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), titled “Let’s Talk About the Night Sky.”

At today’s event, actor Justin Baldoni will be joined by more than 200 kids of all abilities to celebrate the legacy of John Taylor “Rocket” Williams, IV, who passed at the age of two from a rare condition known as CDG (congenital disorders of glycosylation), but whose memory will live on through the playtime experiences of children and families for years to come with the launch of “Rocket’s Universe.” Watch Justin cut the ribbon and read “Curious George and the Rocket,” donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, as well as a new book developed by Shane’s Inspiration and Too Small to Fail titled “Play Time is Talk Time” on Facebook Live beginning at 11a.m. P.T.:  https://www.facebook.com/2smalltofail/.

“Playgrounds provide wonderful opportunities for parents to engage in language-rich interactions like talking, reading, and singing with their children,” said Kara Dukakis, director, Too Small to Fail. “We are so pleased to work with such incredible organizations on the opening of inclusive playgrounds like Rocket’s Universe to turn everyday moments like play time into meaningful opportunities to promote early brain and language development.”

Shane’s Inspiration founder Scott Williams (“NCIS” Executive Producer) will participate in the opening ceremony and the celebration of inclusive play, and Actor Justin Baldoni (“Jane the Virgin”) will speak on behalf of the Too Small To Fail initiative (“Playtime is Talktime”). Other special guests include Mason Cook (“Speechless”), Madison McLaughlin (“Arrow,” “Chicago PD”), Shira Strongin (“Sick Chicks” blogger), and Surly Squirrel (character from “The Nut Job”). City of Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Recreation and Parks General Manager Mike Shull, and other city officials will also participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Too Small to Fail, Shane’s Inspiration, and Landscape Structures first came together through the Clinton Global Initiative in 2015 to announce a new effort to build 20 new playgrounds that promote early literacy across the country. Since then, more than 20 new and renovated playgrounds incorporate Too Small to Fail’s “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” creative materials on panels and signage with the goal of boosting children’s early brain and language development by prompting fun and enjoyable conversations, stories, and songs while parents and children play together.

Too Small to Fail also recently announced a strategic partnership to bring the national “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaign to the families of Los Angeles County through First 5 LA’s Welcome Baby program, a family support and parent coaching initiative for new and expecting parents. New parents and caregivers are now receiving high-quality “Talking is Teaching” materials during home visits, including a CD, a Sesame Street Family Resource guide, and receiving a blanket — with prompts that encourage parents to talk, read, and sing with their children every day starting at birth.

Learn more at toosmall.org. Find resources for parents and caregivers at talkingisteaching.org or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/2smalltofail), Twitter (@2SmalltoFail), and Instagram (www.instagram.com/2smalltofail).