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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

This summer, mobile playgrounds bring play to kids who need it most


Summer vacation is supposed to be all about outdoor play. But for the four out of five children who don’t live within a half-mile of a park or playground, playing outside isn’t always a viable option.

Clearly, the long-term solution is to ensure that every child has access to a playground within walking distance. Yet as we work toward this ambitious vision, millions of children are missing out on the childhood they deserve. What can we do right now?

Three of our Playful City USA communities who asked this vital question arrived at a similar solution—that is, creating a mobile playground that brings play to children in need. For decades, mobile ice cream shops (aka "ice cream trucks") have brought the joy of frozen creamy goodness to children everywhere. Who is to say that trucks can’t bring children playgrounds, too?

In Baton Rouge, La. a new mobile playground will work to fill in the gaps that the city’s large network of parks still misses. "We have several areas throughout the parish… where there are kids who are in apartment complexes or… some places where you have to cross major thoroughfares to get to a park," BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight says. "We want to make sure that we are able to impact kids in those zones." McKnight says she hopes to eventually link BREC on the Geaux with a mobile farmers market launched on Wednesday and the library system's Bookmobile.



2013 Playful City USA Communities


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:



Citizen Engagement: Town Meetings


This blog will begin a three-part series on citizen engagement and parks. For this first entry, we will discuss how to get citizens to attend a classic town hall style meeting.

Town hall meetings began in the United States in New England to give citizens a way to share their opinions with the newly formed government. For over 300 years, citizens have attended meetings to discuss events of the town and to vote on key measures. The practice of a town hall meeting comes from Ancient Greece and the idea that all citizens should have a voice in the proceedings of their town. Today, town hall meetings are still a popular forum for engaging citizens and getting feedback on new initiatives, new ideas, and getting feedback on problem areas in towns.