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"Play is invaluable in returning a sense of safety, normalcy, and health." Courtney, KaBOOM! Project Manager
KaBOOM! partners with city leaders to develop data-driven solutions that increase playability – the extent to which a city makes it easy for all kids to get balanced and active play. As a benefit to select Playful City USA communities, KaBOOM! provides a tool to help identify areas where low-income children do not have accessible opportunities to play in their city – called play desert maps. To date, KaBOOM! has created dozens of citywide play desert maps and continues to add more every year.
Play desert maps are online, interactive maps that include the following information:
As part of our city partnerships, we also work with cities to include custom data that best fits the city’s goals and needs. A play desert map should ideally consider more than just demographics and walkable areas, so over the years KaBOOM! has also considered the following data:
You can help us with this work by identifying and assessing your neighborhood playspaces on our Map of Play.
Are you interested in receiving a play desert map? Apply to be a Playful City USA community and read about how other cities are using their maps.
Play desert maps drive action in cities and are a rational and effective way to help local, state and federal governments, school districts, foundations, and child-serving non-profits allocate resources in areas where they can have the highest impact to increase their city’s playability. Play desert maps can lead to:
Ottawa, KS has been a Playful City USA community since 2010. After receiving their online play desert map in 2013, the Ottawa Play Taskforce used it to analyze and prioritize their gaps in amenities. Prior to receiving their map, the Taskforce had been focused on new and replacement projects and had not considered the geographic locations of Ottawa’s parks. They have since incorporated their play desert map into their park master plan and have used this data to plan for three additional playspaces. As a channel to help share their success story to funders and apply for grants, Ottawa’s play desert map became a useful tool for goal-setting and illustrating need to potential funders.
Pittsburgh, PA has been a Playful City USA community since 2011 and also received their online play desert map in 2013. The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, a group of committed individuals and organizations working to prioritize play in Pittsburgh, worked with KaBOOM! to learn more about their play opportunities. In addition to a traditional play desert map that focuses on playspaces, the Collaborative also requested an analysis of child care facility locations to examine play opportunities that children experience during their day. The child care analysis examined each facility’s capacity for children, its quality, and whether it was within walking distance to a playspace. The Collaborative has used the map to start conversations with child care providers and city personnel to get the ball rolling on bringing outdoor playspaces to Downtown Pittsburgh and other areas in need of play.
Broadly speaking, a playspace is anywhere children and teens can play. Playspaces fall into four broad categories:
Playgrounds in the United States primarily serve specific age groups:
Playgrounds are most often found in the following locations:
Sports facilities, which include the following outdoor and indoor venues
Sports facilities are most often found in the following locations: