Partnering for Play: Sustainable action through public-non-profit partnerships


As a follow-up to the inaugural Playful City USA Leaders’ Summit join the Playful City USA program for a special two-part webinar series titled Partnering for Play – Sustainable action through public, non-profit and private sector partnerships [link to registration link below]. This series will focus on creating formal and informal partnerships between local government agencies and nonprofit organizations to implement services or initiatives that advance opportunities to play. 

Join us for Part I which will highlight a partnership in San Francisco focused on improving the quality of play infrastructure and increasing public funds for playgrounds.

Partnering for Play Part I: Thursday, November 7th, 1:00 EST.  Speakers from San Francisco Parks Alliance will present with San Francisco Parks Department on their joint Playground Initiative – a multi-year initiative to assess the quality of all playgrounds in the city and use that data to both guide investments and create new public dollars for playgrounds. Participants will also learn how to use KaBOOM!’s Map of Play as a tool to get user feedback on the quality of playgrounds in their city.


In addition to learning more about these innovative and successful partnerships, participants will learn:

1.     Ways to connect with a new network of citizens and nonprofits and how this can exponentially increase your reach and impact.

  1. Opportunities to partner with corporations and businesses to advance play, including grants, in-kind donations, volunteers, and co-marketing. 
  2. Strategies for expanding public services within existing budgets.
  3. How to secure solid agreements, whether formal or informal, to ensure mutual follow-through and commitment to sustainable action.



The right to play


Many countries around the world consider it a fundamental right for children to have the opportunity to play. Under Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989):

“Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child, and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.”

So far, 193 United Nations member states have ratified this treaty, which means that international law now binds them to promoting and protecting play, along with protecting other child specific rights and needs. Unfortunately, while the United States has signed the treaty we, along with Somalia and South Sudan, are one of only 3 member states yet to ratify it, making the treaty unbinding for us.

Meanwhile, recognizing play as a fundamental right has led to several play inspired policy initiatives across the globe, most notably in the U.K. and Ireland. In 2004, the National Children’s Office of Ireland created the progressive National Play Policy that reviews the importance of play, highlights best-practices, develops an action plan that addresses play at the local level, and provides a basic framework for implementation. Since then, both England and Scotland have also advanced national strategies to promote play, implementing policies that honor their commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The government of Ireland gives kids much of the credit for identifying the importance of play to their quality of life, suggesting that consultations with youth helped to pinpoint policy gaps overlooked by older generations.   

At KaBOOM! we created the Playful City USA program in 2007 in order to address the play deficit within the U.S. and to ensure that play gets put on local policy agendas across the nation. Growing from an initial 31 towns and cities in its first year, in 2012 the Playful City USA program recognized 213 communities across the country working to increase play opportunities for kids. Cities map their playspaces, which helps to identify play deserts (areas that are child rich and playspace poor), conduct a needs assessment that examines extant play policies, and share their best practices for play.  At KaBOOM! we believe in the fundamental right of children to play, and will continue advancing, city by city, to build a national network of communities committed to this cause. We hope that one day the U.S., like Ireland and the U.K., will make play a national policy priority, but until that day comes we need your help to make sure that every child grows up experiencing the benefits, and joys, of play.


Trails in your community


Not only does a having a city-wide trail system increase access to parks, it makes running, walking, and biking, more feasible and safe for all citizens. A study from the Calthorpe Associates, an urban design firm, found that people living in pedestrian friendly neighborhoods make four times as many walking and bicycling trips as residents living an a community without trails. In addition to increasing the health of the residents, a community that invests in trails will see increased economic benefits. The National Trails Training Partnership reported that homes with a high level of walkability can have premiums up to $34,000 more than homes with average walkability!

Are you interested in getting your community interested in more trails for your community? Check out these tips.

Connect your Spaces: Trails can help connect a community. In the Playful City USA community of Broomfield, Colorado, residents have over 250 miles of trails to enjoy. The city uses the trails to create and connect recreational opportunities and give residents access to play spaces and parks. By providing safe, clean, and efficient trail systems, residents have access to the cities extensive park system. Through the creation of Broomfield’s Open Space, Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan, the city of Broomfield is working hard to increase access to play spaces for citizens. After finding gaps in the trail system, Broomfield pinpointed areas where new trails would open accessibility to the local parks and play spaces. Broomfield is working this year to build even more trails and attempting to connect all of their parks. The trial system offers long routes, short routes, and is used for a variety of reasons. By giving residents a place to exercise and connecting their play spaces, residents have a vibrant and active community that is focused on healthy living.

Make a Race: Chula Vista, California, home of the United States Olympic Training center and a Playful City USA community, makes use of their space by organizing a Community Fun Run race every year. This 5K allows residents to run, walk, or stroll through the Olympic Village. All of the proceeds from the race benefit the Chula Vista Nature Center and the Friends of the Chula Vista Parks and Recreation Library and Animal Shelter. Chula Vista is currently working to implement a Greenbelt Master Plan, which would make a 28-mile trail around the city. While the trail system is in process, a 5K Fun Run is a great way to get citizens fired up about staying active.

Impact Policy: Residents and representatives from communities can pull together to ask their local government for trails that provide safe access to parks. KaBOOM! published a report outlining how to influence local policy. If you would like to read more about how to gain support for trails, playgrounds, and increased access to playspaces be sure to read Play Matters: A Study of Best Practices to Inform Local Policy and Process in Support of Children’s Play.

  Photos courtesy of the City of Chula Vista and the City of Broomfield.


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