Waves of play
In the city featuring nature’s most famous waterpark, Niagara Falls, New York has been making major waves. Niagara Falls has been a recognized Playful City USA community since 2009. A diverse and growing community, play is at the center of the city’s revitalization plan. Niagara Falls embraces play in three effective ways.
Community Education. To open access to more play spaces, Niagara Falls school district works with the City of Niagara Falls to ensure students have access to play and then learn about play in the classroom. By partnering together, the children of Niagara Falls have more time to play. With joint use agreements that open access to gyms, education programs surrounding play and nutrition, and providing recreational venues, the school and city are making major progress in creating opportunities for kids to play.
Community Engagement. Niagara Falls took an active approach in building play. After becoming a Playful City USA community, Niagara Falls applied and received a $20,000 Let’s Play City Construction Grant. By starting a project on the Our Dream Playground website, generating community support and applying for the exclusive Playful City USA grant opportunities, the city was able to inspire a number of residents behind the vision of an amazing new play space for the children of the community. By using the KaBOOM! Community build model, Niagara Falls built the new Griffon Park playground and renovate other areas in the city. Over 220 community volunteers pitched in on the day of the playground build! The Fire Department, a local DJ, and the Buffalo Sabres mascot all got in on the building fun as well! From the local restaurants donating food to the raffle provided from local businesses, the entire community of Niagara Falls rallied for play.
If you are interested in improving your city’s play spaces, apply for a Let’s Play Maintenance Grant!
Community Celebration. What would the point of working so hard without taking time to enjoy the positive impacts of pushing for play? Each year, Niagara Falls hosts an annual Play Day. This year’s play day occurred in September, during the construction of a brand new playground. The Play Day featured organized games and a fishing derby while the adults worked on the playground. In order to give all children in Niagara Falls an opportunity to play, the city incorporated recreational activities like hockey, tennis, and organized sports. The city also planned affordable activities that could be continued after the play day such as bike riding, hopscotch, jumping rope and skating. The play day excited children and encouraged not just a day of healthy play, but a life of healthy play.
Niagara Falls has proved that action in one area can inspire and lead communities to take action in the future. Members of the same planning committee for the Griffon Park playground are now working to plan the next improvement projects for the city. The city is working to open a beautiful waterfront park that features the downtown area. With a community devoted to play, more children than ever before will have access to opportunities for play.