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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

SuperPlay Weekend


The highlight of professional football season, The Super Bowl is one of the most watched and anticipated events of the year. For Super Bowl XLVII, three amazing Playful City USA communities were highlighted in America’s favorite sporting event.

Before all of the celebration, the City of New Orleans graciously acted as a host for the Super Bowl.  As a part of the festivities leading up to the game, the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee hosted the Super Saturday of Service to engage volunteers to complete revitalization projects across the city. KaBOOM! and a group of excited volunteers completed a playground build in Hunter’s Field, located in Treme neighborhood. An area full of history, the neighborhood is a hub of the cities rich African-American and Creole culture. Volunteers included players and National Football League alumni, as well as fans in town for the festivities. This build marks the 16th build KaBOOM! has completed in New Orleans. Here is a video of the opening speech Mayor Mitch Landrieu gave to the volunteers.



Promoting play in Winter Park


Since 2011, the Playful City USA community of Winter Park has been working to ensure that each child has a playground within a mile of their house. Winter Park is very close to reaching their goal. Because of the high level of community support for play and Playful City USA, the City of Winter Park holds school engagement days, customer appreciation day, clean ups, spruce-ups, and tree plantings in play areas across the city. Support for their parks is widespread. However, while having programming and events that promote play is important, making sure the public knows what your city offers is more important. In Winter Park, an extensive marketing plan is created for each large event hosted.

For example, Winter Park hosts two playdays per year. The playday includes a variety of activities such as playground games, painting, a sidewalk art contest, healthy living information tables, tumbling demonstrations, and a park beautification activity. To publicize the event, Winter Park posts flyers throughout the town and on the site. The playday is included in the City Manager’s article in the local Winter Park Observer Newspaper and the playday is announced at the City Commission Meeting. The playday is also included in the City Update (a city wide newspaper). Flyers are sent to elementary schools, local day cares and nurseries.

By establishing connections with local schools and businesses, the Parks & Recreations department can create a pipeline of information flow, getting news to citizens faster.  Offering children information tunes adults into the fun community events. For instance, during July, Natinoal Parks Month, a full calendar for the month is released to the public detailing information about a plethora of events. 



The right to play


Many countries around the world consider it a fundamental right for children to have the opportunity to play. Under Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989):

“Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child, and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.”

So far, 193 United Nations member states have ratified this treaty, which means that international law now binds them to promoting and protecting play, along with protecting other child specific rights and needs. Unfortunately, while the United States has signed the treaty we, along with Somalia and South Sudan, are one of only 3 member states yet to ratify it, making the treaty unbinding for us.