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"Play. That's the best way kids learn -- doing something they enjoy." Trish Thomas, America's Most Playful Family Contest winner
Congratulations to the 217 communities who have earned recognition as a 2013 Playful City USA community! The program received a record number of applications this year and could not be more excited to celebrate with the exceptional cities that were selected. Hailing from 43 states, the 217 Playful City USA honorees range in size from seven-time honorees such as San Francisco and Spartanburg, S.C., to first-time recipient Ellsworth, Kan. (population: 3,100). These Playful City USA communities are making a commitment to play and physical activity by developing unique local action plans to increase the quantity and quality of play in their community.
In the seventh year of the annual program, 16 Playful City USA communities received recognition for the seventh consecutive year, while 23 earned honors for the sixth time, 25 for the fifth time, 29 for the fourth time, 41 for the third time, 46 for the second time. KaBOOM! recognized 37 communities with their first Playful City USA designation.
These cities are leaders in creating policies, programming, and infrastructure that increases opportunities for kids to play. 90% of cities reported having a Parks or Play Commission dedicated to helping strengthen play in their city. 78% of cities reported recess policies that ensure children of the community get time to play in school. 56% of cities run an Adopt-A-Park program and over half of cities have other policies dedicated to increasing access to play.
A primary goal of Playful City USA is to encourage cities and towns to share ideas, concepts and programs in an effort to increase play opportunities for children. City initiatives include:
Durham (NC) – Durham is collecting data and feedback from citizens to help build their Master Plan for Durham Parks and Recreation. QR codes are added to historic signage for more information. Investing in technology and programs help increase use of parks and increase customer satisfaction with parks services. Park “Ambassadors” work crowds at DPR events with tablets that allow residents to give instant feedback on events
Milwaukee (Wis.) – The city recently passed legislation requiring any organization using its facility as an elementary school to have an outdoor playspace for children. The legislation ensures both Milwaukee Public Schools and local charter schools are providing adequate and safe outdoor playspaces for all elementary students.
Birmingham (Ala.) – The city assembled the new Youth First Play Task Force with members from government, youth service, and civic agencies to determine how the community can work together to increase play. The Birmingham Division of Youth Services, one of the only youth focused government departments in the country, provides programming tailored to getting kids active. They will offer the Youth First Sports Week, which communicated opportunities, adding 50% more sports in 2013
The 217 Playful City USA communities are now eligible for $20,000 playground construction grants and $15,000 and $30,000 dedicated towards creating joint use agreements via Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families active nationwide. Grant recipients will be announced in the fall.
For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including Let’s Play grants and applications for 2014, visit www.playfulcityusa.org.
Santa Fe Springs
New Port Richey
West Palm Beach
Oak Park Heights
Village of Bellevue