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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

$30,000 and $15,000 Grants to Support Playful Policies


While communities throughout the country struggle with budgetary constraints, providing the resources needed to ensure that children stay active and healthy too often gets placed on the back-burner. Yet, despite these constraints, there are several cost-effective policy measures that community leaders can pursue to increase access to the play opportunities that children need to thrive.

To that end, KaBOOM! strongly supports the creation of joint use agreements that make play more accessible to kids, and is working to assist communities across the country to open up school playgrounds, during non-school hours, through the availability of $30,000 and $15,000 Let’s Play Joint Use Grants.

A joint use agreement (JUA) is a formal agreement between two separate entities–often a school and a city or county–setting forth the terms and conditions for shared use of public property or facilities. While most agreements are formed between government entities, nonprofit groups and private property owners can also take part in joint use agreements. Each agreements differs in size and scope, but they all serve to solidify collaborative partnerships that pool resources and divide responsibility amongst all of the parties involved.



Rec It! In Alvin


In the Playful City USA community of Alvin, Texas, students are working hard to play hard all year. In 2012, the Parks and Recreation Department partnered with the Alvin School District to launch a new program called “Rec It!” Through the program, Rec It! coordinators will meet with local elementary schools to encourage student to keep a log of their physical activity.

The goal of Rec It! is to have each student log 120 hours of physical activity, or a half hour of play a day. Students will have monthly goals and prizes in addition to a grand prize at the end of the year. After reaching their 120 hours, the kids will receive a number of prizes from community partners. Prizes included a summer pool and park pass giving kids ample opportunity to enjoy some quality fun in the sun!

Michelle Nestra, Alvin Parks and Recreation Coordinator says “I am confident with this new program we cannot only encourage kids to be active, but assist them with incorporating exercise, journaling, and healthy eating habits for a lifetime. Journaling is a proven effective tool for weight loss and accountability of personal goals and can also be used by the teacher as a weekly writing assignment.” By encouraging healthy habits and rewards for healthy behavior at a young age, these students will learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle, leading to smarter and healthier children of the community.



Las Cruces makes play their mission


What does being a Playful City USA community mean to the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico? The “Playful City USA designation is an important honor to the City of Las Cruces and through a continued commitment to promote play, an honor we hope to continue benefitting from.” Through partnering with schools, introducing creative programs, and making play a priority, the citizens of Las Cruces continue to benefit from a playful lifestyle. Here are some innovative ways Las Cruces keeps their citizens playing.

Working with local non-profits, the Las Cruces Public School District (LCPSD), and the New Mexico Department of Health, a number of collaborations have made Las Cruces involved in healthy lifestyles for citizens.

First, Las Cruces partners with LCPSD to use recreational and equipment spaces. The partnership has grown into the expansion of youth sport leagues, with over 1,000 players, 200 coaches, and 100 teams made up of children from all ages! The partnership allows the youth league to use public and school gyms to accommodate for the increasing popularity. The partnership also works to support the Recess Before Lunch Program. By allowing kids to burn off energy before going to lunch, kids waste less food, re-fuel more efficiently, and focus better on the rest of their day. Las Cruces has reported great success with these initiatives.