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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

Fall River, Measuring Up to Play

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In many communities across the country, local governments are slashing their budgets for parks and recreation projects. This is happening despite evidence showing how the long term health and economic impact of these investments outweighs the temporary cost savings incurred from reduced spending on playgrounds, recreational programming, and park maintenance.

However, in the Playful City USA community of Fall River, Massachusetts, Mayor William Flanagan understands the importance that play has for the community, and has shown his commitment by championing several bond measures to increase funding for park projects. With the majority support of Fall River’s city council, in late 2012, the city passed a measure to generate $500,000 for the revitalization of Highland Park and $375,000 to construct an inclusive playground at Kennedy Park

The impetus to construct Fall River’s first handicap accessible playground came after Saint Anne’s Neighborhood Association began hosting events and clean-ups in Kennedy Park through the city’s adopt-a-park program. After adopting the park, Association President, Pamela Laliberte, says it became obvious that the park’s dilapidated playground would need to be replaced and the group quickly mobilized to conduct a fundraising campaign. For Laliberte, whose daughter has a disability, making sure that a new playground would serve all children became an important catalyst for their efforts.

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CAP Parks

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With the increasing urbanization of cities across the United States, green space is becoming a valuable and sometimes scarce entity. Green space loss in cities between 1990 and 2000 accounts for the loss of 1.4 million hectares of open space. The National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play cites spending time outdoors as one of the most crucial elements of healthy growth and development of a child. Facing a loss of space and a demonstrated need for outdoor space in a community, what can cities do to make more parks and open spaces for children and families to use? The City of Glendale California is hoping to make space out of thin air!

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Citizen Engagement: Social Media

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Increasingly, cities are connecting with residents online. Social media is a useful tool to keep citizens engaged and aware of activities occurring in your city. An easy and free way to keep citizens involved in programs occurring in your city, social media is a powerful way to spread information.

Benefits to a comprehensive social media presence for cities include increased citizen engagement and knowledge of the city. Online interactions provide the opportunity to strengthen connections and relationships between the city and the citizens that use parks and programs. Social media increases traffic to city-wide events, such as play days. Social media allows cities to share the fun and playful events that citizens attendees.

General Tips for Engagement:

  • Focus on your audience. Select who attends your events and target all publications based of who needs the information.
     
  • Be clear and concise. Get the important information about an event out first and provide easy access to more information.
     
  • Recognize and capitalize upon new relationships with cities that emerge as a result of social media.

 

Each Playful City USA community approaches social media in different ways. Here are some of our favorite examples from each of the major social media platforms.

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