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Is your city or town creating policies or investing in programs and infrastructure to keep kids active, playing, and healthy? Then it may have what it takes to be recognized as a Playful City USA community.

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Learn how to qualify for designation and become part of a national network of government, nonprofit, and private sector organizations working to increase play opportunities across the country and give all kids the childhood they deserve.

How playful is your city or town?

Playful City USA is a national recognition program honoring cities and towns that make play a priority and use innovative programs to get children active, playing, and healthy. Learn more about how your city or town can qualify for designation.

Facts about the 2013 Playful City USA communities

  • 217 cities in 43 states
  • 16 Founding Cities are recognized for a seventh year as Playful City USA communities
  • 37 cities and towns have earned Playful City USA designation for the first time

What is Playful City USA?

Playful City USA is a national program sponsored by the Humana Foundation recognizing communities that demonstrate a commitment to ensuring all kids get the balance of active play they need to thrive.

How do you qualify to be named a Playful City USA community?

We’re looking for communities that show a strong commitment to the cause of play beyond the playground – from creating policies to developing programs – to make play a priority.


Benefits of Playful City USA designation

  • Two Playful City USA highway road signs
  • Personalized marketing activation kit that includes press releases, a social media plan, and marketing materials to support national recognition and increase awareness
  • Webinars and peer-to-peer networking events to share and learn best practices from across the network and country
  • Exclusive access to Policy Map, an online tool that enables cities to leverage up-to-date city data that can be used in combination with KaBOOM! playspace mapping data
  • Opportunity to apply for grants and playground build opportunities offered by KaBOOM! that support targeted policies, programs, and infrastructure for your city or town
  • Increased stature and competitive advantage for state and national grant opportunities Opportunity to apply to attend 2014 Playful City USA Leaders' Summit


Playful stories from our cities

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.



Cities champion play at inaugural summit


For the first time, municipal and thought leaders from around the country gathered to chart a path to make sure that all kids get the play they need to thrive. Representatives from 53 cities, 30 states, and three countries came together at the inaugural Playful City USA Leaders' Summit, hosted by KaBOOM! and sponsored by the Humana Foundation, to declare loud and clear that they value play. The nearly 200 participants rolled up their sleeves and spent an intense two days on an issue that—thanks to the efforts of many at the summit—is gaining increasing attention.

Participants engaged with an impressive list of speakers and presenters, including Secretaries Kathleen Sebelius and Arne Duncan, journalist Cokie Roberts, Walter Isaacson, author of the best-selling biography Steve Jobs, and 12 mayors, about how play contributes to positive outcomes for children and communities. From building 21st century workforce skills, to reversing the trend in childhood obesity rates, to renewing urban areas, investing in play is an investment in our future.

"Cities are critical when it comes to achieving play-related outcomes because most play-focused infrastructure investment, policies, and programming happen at the local level," said Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO of KaBOOM!. "That's why KaBOOM! created the Playful City USA program in 2007 to recognize municipalities who are prioritizing play. It was great to have many of our Playful City USA communities at our inaugural summit."

Some highlights:



Trailblazing Play in Pierre


This September, citizen advocates, non-profit organizations, foundations, businesses, and thought leaders from across the country convened in Baltimore, Md., to take part in the inaugural Playful City USA Leaders’ Summit, sponsored by the Humana Foundation. Over two days, these leaders discussed the policies and practices they incorporate to make their cities more playful places for kids, families, and communities to stay healthy and active together. One fun and unique innovation that emerged during the summit discussions was presented by Mayor Laurie Gill of Pierre, S.D., where the city has been working to install play pods along the local trail system.

One of the most alarming health problems facing the city of Pierre, South Dakota is childhood obesity; nearly two-thirds of children are either overweight or obese and similar trends can be observed in the city’s adult population.  Identified as a food desert, the city has undertaken efforts to address the lack of access to fresh, healthy food by ensuring its availability in local markets and through encouraging a culture shift in local eating habits.

Recognized as a Playful City USA community since 2012, Pierre also values the role of play in fighting childhood obesity. To that end, the city is working to eliminate play deserts, so that children have access to the play opportunities they need to grow into healthy, happy, and productive adults.