KaBOOM! announces Playful City USA communities
Despite strained budgets that have left park and recreation department funding at its lowest levels in decades, some cities continue to expand the number of playgrounds in their communities, according to the Washington-based non-profit KaBOOM!, which promotes the construction of playgrounds around the country. On Wednesday, KaBOOM! released its list of 2010 Playful City USA communities, 118 cities the organization recognizes for promoting good health among children by providing the time and space for play.
The 118 communities are spread through 36 states and range in size from San Francisco and Atlanta to Ottawa, Kan., and Shirley, Mass. In the fourth year of the annual program, 33 of 118 Playful City USA communities were repeat honorees from 2009, 30 were honored for the third consecutive year and 19 communities received Playful City USA status for the fourth straight year. “An extreme misconception exists in our country that play among children is a luxury when, in fact, it’s an absolute necessity,” said Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “For decades, this notion dominated our actions, and we continue to see the damaging results: a monumental lack of playspaces for children and sky-rocketing childhood obesity rates. These 118 Playful City USA communities refused to adhere to the status quo and realized all children deserve a municipal commitment to the cause of play.”
For the third consecutive year, Florida led the nation with the most Playful City USA communities (19), with California and Arizona sharing second place for the second straight year.
Playful City initiatives include:
• Casa Grande, Ariz.’s Positive Lunch Activities for Youth (P.L.A.Y.) program for 6th to 8th grade students who no longer have access to play equipment.
• Dothan, Ala., used a “community build” process for all playground construction to build community cohesion and spirit, as well as save 20 to 25 percent on overall costs.
• Indianapolis’ “Get Fit Indy” challenge, launched this summer, which is designed to encourage children to be active for 60 minutes a day while eating nutritiously.
• Orlando, Fla., has increased its quantity of playspaces by developing joint-use agreements with the local school district to open school recreation facilities to the public during non-school hours.
• Takoma Park, Md., created Traveling Playgroups to meet and provide residents with recreational information at different facilities throughout the city, while collecting resident feedback on improvement needs.
Read more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including a complete list of this year’s winners and applications for 2011.