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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

How Missoula broke down barriers on the playground

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In 2007, staff at Missoula’s Jefferson Early Learning program realized they had a problem. The playground equipment at the Jefferson Preschool was decaying and needed major renovation to ensure the safety of children. When they formed a playground committee to address the issue, the conversation moved beyond safety and toward finding other ways to maximize their student’s playground experience.

The committee decided to move forward with the goal of transforming the site into a “barrier free play space,” where children of different mental and physical abilities would be able to engage and interact with others, take advantage of playground features, and easily navigate the environment. Through the financial and volunteer support of the Missoula Sunrise Rotary, the committee was able to remove all of the unsafe structures and clear the way for a major playground makeover.

Still, the committee lacked much of the financial backing needed to bring the playground they envisioned to fruition, despite the strong support that the project had gained in the community. In 2011, committee members learned of the KaBOOM! Let’s Play Joint Use Grant program, made available through the support of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. They decided to apply for the grant, which provides funding for communities to open school playgrounds to the public during nonschool hours through a joint use agreement, and began incorporating three other school playgrounds within their plans to increase play opportunities for Missoula’s children.

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Truck-N-Play Day

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As a child, do you remember the fascination felt upon seeing a bulldozer at work? A fire truck zoom by with it’s lights on and sirens blaring? A tractor pulling crops? Trucks and other vehicles sparked hours of play for children across the country. On April 6th, 2013, the Playful City USA community of Safety Harbor, Florida will host the first annual Truck-N-Play Play Day.  

A play day inspired by trucks and the fun they bring, almost 2,000 children and community members are expected to attend. Truck-N-Play Day was inspired by Safety Harbor’s successful city tradition of Touch A Truck Day, where children could  interact with a number of interesting vehicles. Safety Harbor wanted to take a successful, well attended, and sought after event and combine it with a brand new Play Day.  By combining events, Safety Harbor will  reach a larger  crowd to spread the importance of Play and celebration their Playful City USA recognition.

 

About the Event: The Truck-N-Play Day will feature different Play Zones for children to enjoy. Zones include a jump rope station, bubbles, shoe golf, face painting, arts and crafts, and hopscotch. To go with the theme of the day, there will be a construction Play Zone and a Sand Pit to encourage use of the trucks. The event will help build the imagination of children in the community, promote social interaction, and physical development.

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Boosting brain power in Brentwood

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The Journal of Pediatrics recently found that BMI is a very important indicator for overall health, but it had little impact on test scores for children. A stronger indicator for intelligence came from aerobic fitness. The study demonstrated that children that were more aerobically-fit were 2.4 times more likely to pass math tests and 2.2 times more likely to pass reading tests. With cities facing reduced budgets and schools cutting down on physical education programming and recess, children are limited in their options for exercising.  Dr. Robert R. Rauner from Creighton University found that “Schools sacrificing physical education and physical activity time in search of more seat time for math and reading instruction could potentially be pursuing a counterproductive approach." This lack of opportunity is effecting children being educated in the United States. The US Department of Health and Human Services found that 1 in 5 children have a mental illness with rates of depression higher than ever before. The OECD ranks the United States #31 internationally in math and #23 in science. These dismal rates could be a result of lack of play opportunities for children.

In the Playful City USA community of Brentwood, California, the city and schools have worked together to increases access to play in two distinct ways for students. To begin, the City of Brentwood has maintained Joint Use Agreements with the Brentwood Union School District (BUSD) and Liberty Union

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