October 10, 2013 KaBOOM!

Cities champion play at inaugural summit

For the first time, municipal and thought leaders from around the country gathered to chart a path to make sure that all kids get the play they need to thrive. Representatives from 53 cities, 30 states, and three countries came together at the inaugural Playful City USA Leaders' Summit, hosted by KaBOOM! and sponsored by the Humana Foundation, to declare loud and clear that they value play. The nearly 200 participants rolled up their sleeves and spent an intense two days on an issue that—thanks to the efforts of many at the summit—is gaining increasing attention.

Participants engaged with an impressive list of speakers and presenters, including Secretaries Kathleen Sebelius and Arne Duncan, journalist Cokie Roberts, Walter Isaacson, author of the best-selling biography Steve Jobs, and 12 mayors, about how play contributes to positive outcomes for children and communities. From building 21st century workforce skills, to reversing the trend in childhood obesity rates, to renewing urban areas, investing in play is an investment in our future.

"Cities are critical when it comes to achieving play-related outcomes because most play-focused infrastructure investment, policies, and programming happen at the local level," said Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO of KaBOOM!. "That's why KaBOOM! created the Playful City USA program in 2007 to recognize municipalities who are prioritizing play. It was great to have many of our Playful City USA communities at our inaugural summit."

Some highlights:

  • When Walter Isaacson said, "If you believe in education..." The Honorable Arne Duncan completed his sentence with "...you've got to believe in play."
  • Pierre, South Dakota, showed how they turned a trail system into a multi-generational playspace by adding play pods along the trail.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted that the medical community no longer uses the term "adult-onset diabetes," since it is now so common in obese children, then noted the physical benefits of active play.
  • A team from the Playful City USA community of Providence, R.I., demonstrated how collaboration between non-profits and government is creating great places to play. Providence was one of 12 cross-sector teams from cities who were at the center of the summit.
  • New research revealed that the reason most parents and kids cite for going to the playground is stress relief—which is critically important as we have a growing understanding of the near- and long-term effects of toxic stress.

 

"At Humana, we believe in making fun things healthy and healthy things fun. The Humana Foundation is proud to be the official sponsor of the KaBOOM! Playful City USA Leaders' Summit, working hand in hand with those on the front lines of our nation' cities to create safe places for people of all ages to live and play together," said Virginia Kelly Judd, Executive Director, Humana Foundation.

In closing remarks, best-selling author Wes Moore aptly said, "This is about more than playgrounds, monkey bars, and trampolines. It's about our children." The audience rose in thunderous applause and we couldn't agree more. The summit made clear that there is a growing movement to give all children the childhood they deserve by ensuring they get the active play they need to thrive.

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