What's a Play Day? Well, it's exactly what the name implies. A Play Day helps build awareness for the importance of play, strengthen your community, and bring old-fashioned fun to your neighborhood.
There's still time to hold a Play Day this fall, and we offer free tools and resources to get you started. Meanwhile, get inspired by these photos from Play Days around the country:
Fontana, Ariz. "organized several picnic style games and activities including: hula till you drop, potato sack races, cha cha slide dance contest, and the Rock Paper Scissors Championship of Fontana!!"
Playful City USA Mount Holly, N.C. held a Play Day to celebrate "the official opening and dedication to the new playground at Woodlawn and improved amenities, games, activities, refreshments and prizes."
Activities at Playful City USA Coventry, Conn. "included a climbing wall, moon bounce, inflatable basketball challenge, a costume swap, face painting, pumpkin carving, pony rides... hoop dancing, sports, a giant chess set... and a costume parade and contest!"
Playful City USA Lyerly, Ga. "hosted two Play Days... and both were huge successes! On Thursday, all of the special education students in our county joined at our park for the first Play Day. This was the first time ever that all those kids had the chance to be all together at the same time and place. They also got to test our brand new Jennswing, which allowed several kids who normally aren't able to participate the chance to swing alongside their peers!"
Ready to organize your own Play Day? Get started here.
This week, we are proud to honor 151 cities and towns across the country that make play a priority and use innovative programs to get children active, playing, and healthy. Playful City USA, a national recognition program spanning 38 states and one territory, asks honorees to develop unique local action plans to increase access to play in their communities.
In the fifth year of the annual program, 19 Playful City USA communities received recognition for the fifth consecutive year, 24 earned honors for the fourth time, 29 for the third time, and 30 for the second time, while 49 claimed their first Playful City USA designation.
Towns and cities across the country are showing off their Playful City USA pride. Is your hometown celebrating its Playful City USA honor? Send us photos and we'll feature them in a future blog post!
Riverside, Calif. (left) and Dothan, Ala. (right)
York, Pa. (left) and Miami Lakes, Fla. (right)
Creedmoor, N.C. (left) and Fishers, Ind. (right)
Is your city playful? See our full list here.
Go Play!: Non-Profit Organization KaBOOM! Announces List of 93 “Playful City USA” Communities
Communities Across the Country Make Play a Priority Despite Economy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Parents have less disposable income for children’s play-related activities because of the economy and funding for Parks and Recreation departments nationwide continues to dwindle during a time when 82 percent of parents believe kids don’t spend enough time playing outside.
Despite these challenges, 93 communities across the nation have taken innovative approaches to make play a priority to ensure their children have the time and space they need to play. To honor cities and towns making this commitment to play, KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing play back into children’s lives, named them Playful City USA communities.
In the third year of this annual program, 32 of 93 Playful City USA communities were repeat honorees from 2008, while 22 cities were cited for the third consecutive year. Thirty-nine new communities have joined others in making a commitment to children, including Honolulu, Indianapolis and San Antonio. These 93 communities created and implemented programs to positively impact childhood wellness, public safety and the quality of life.
Each of the 2009 Playful City USA communities demonstrated creative commitments to the cause of play in the areas of quantity, quality and access. Quality relates to the number of usable, open playspaces. Quality involves subjective factors that encourage repeated use and make playspaces engaging, exciting, interesting and fun. Access entails the ability to get to a playspace (roads, trails) and a lack of barriers to the playspace (cost, safety, traffic, locked gates, equity).
Playful City USA celebrates and highlights these unique initiatives developed by communities across the country. A primary goal of Playful City USA is to encourage cities and towns to share creative ideas, concepts and programs in an effort to increase play opportunities for children. City initiatives include:
Dothan, Ala. (pop. 65,447)
After incorporating the KaBOOM! community build model for the construction of a playground, the City decided to use this method exclusively for any future playgrounds built in Dothan. The community build model offers a great opportunity to involve neighborhoods, while saving significant costs on construction.
Indianapolis, Ind. (pop. 795,458)
The Indianapolis Parks and Recreation department is conducting a study that would involve converting abandoned housing and vacant lots and turning them into urban mini parks. This project will require that city department resources are combined to increase green spaces and remove abandoned housing, identify clusters of abandoned houses and vacant lots, identify potential mini park spaces, and host public meetings that would solicit the surrounding neighborhoods’ advice on the usage of these spaces.
Las Cruces, N.M. (pop. 86,268)
Las Cruces Public Schools launched a free program called Recess Before Lunch in 2007 to examine what benefits could result. After implementing the program, moving recess before lunch led to a significant improvement in healthy eating habits for the students, a reduction in food waste, and better focus in the classroom after lunch.
San Francisco, Calif. (pop. 808,976)
The San Francisco Neighborhood Parks Council (SFNPC) developed a Playground Report Card which analyzes and rates playspaces in San Francisco. The Report Card gave letter grades to all the playgrounds, with the San Francisco Parks and Recreation department and SFNPC then taking action by bringing all the failing parks up to standard.
Ankeny, Iowa (pop. 42,000)
As part of the Ankeny Comprehensive plan, the highest priority of Ankeny residents was to build a trail system within the community that connects to a regional trail system. The Ankeny to Woodward Trail Steering Committee secured a $1.75 million Vision Iowa grant to develop the 20 miles of trail and construct one of the world’s tallest and longest trail bridges with the project scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2009.
New York, N.Y. (pop. 8,310,212)
The New York City Parks and Recreation Department will break ground and revamp 221 playgrounds that require improvement throughout the City, while also targeting underdeveloped destination parks for each borough in 2009. This City is also working toward the creation of a public plaza in every community in partnership with non-profit groups, particularly in neighborhoods that lack open space.
The KaBOOM! vision is a great place to play within walking distance of every child. Playful City USA communities create best practices, like the ones above, to reach a similar goal. They serve as role models for other communities and prove that enhancing children’s well-being by increasing the opportunity for play is an attainable goal for every community.
“Our country is facing two monumental deficits: a lack of unstructured play among children and a lack of resources to address this very issue,” said Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! CEO and Co-founder. “These 93 communities took a stand and determined that the future of their community—their children—deserve a commitment to the cause of play. This is an investment in the future, not an expenditure and cities and towns across the country can replicate initiatives from these Playful City USA communities so that they too can bring play back into the lives of their children.”
2009 Playful City USA Communities
Baldwin Park, Calif.
Casa Grande, Ariz.
Commerce City, Colo.
Coral Gables, Fla.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Delray Beach, Fla.
#Grand Prairie, Texas
#Green River, Wyo.
#La Mesa, Calif.
*Lake Charles, La.
*Lake Worth, Fla.
Las Cruces, N.M.
#Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.
#Mercer Island, Wash.
Miami Lakes, Fla.
*New Lenox, Ill.
New Port Richey, Fla.
*New Roads, La.
#New York City, N.Y.
Niagara Falls, N.Y.
#Palm Bay, Fla.
#Safety Harbor, Fla.
#St. Petersburg, Fla.
San Antonio, Texas
San Bernardino, Calif.
*San Francisco, Calif.
Takoma Park, Md.
#West Palm Beach, Fla.
* Three-time honoree
# Two-time honoree
2009 Playful City USA Communities by State:
9: Arizona, California
5: North Carolina
4: Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland
3: Illinois, Ohio, Washington
2: Alabama, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wyoming
1: Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina
Applications for 2010 Playful City USA recognition will be available beginning in the fall of 2009.
The KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play, including the Playful City USA program, is made possible via the support of the Omidyar Network.
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since 1995, KaBOOM! has used its innovative community-build model to bring together business and community interests to construct more than 1,600 new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America. KaBOOM! also offers a variety of resources, including an online community, free online trainings, grants, publications and the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play, which includes Playful City USA and Playmakers – a national network of individual advocates for play. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.
With the help of over 5,000 municipal leaders gathered in New Orleans this week for the National League of Cities annual conference, KaBOOM! celebrated and honored the leadership of the 31 first and founding Playful City USA communities, our pioneers in play, and true role models for all communities across America who want to demonstrate that they put their children first.
The week was packed with exciting events and, in KaBOOM! fashion, left a lasting impact on both attendees and the local community.
On November 15th, 500 local and national leaders celebrated Cajun! KaBOOM!-style during an gala reception honoring our first and founding Playful City USA Communities.
On November 16th, our founding Playful City USA representatives rolled up their sleeves and joined hundreds of mayors and local community volunteers to build a great place to play at the Joe Brown Park, in the City of New Orleans. In partnership with the National League of Cities, Playworld Systems Incorporated, New Orleans Recreation Department and the City of New Orleans Parks and Parkways, volunteers left behind a lasting legacy of play by completing a new playground in just one day!
To wind up this national three day conference, the 31 Founding Playful City USA communities were honored by KaBOOM! CEO & Co-Founder Darell Hammond and over two thousand of their peers from across America at a special awards ceremony during the closing day luncheon.
It was an exciting week in New Orleans and will be an even better week following the conference as local municipal leaders take the message of Playful City USA back to their own communities in 2008!
Were you at the NLC Conference now? Log in and comment -- tell us your story about Playful City USA.
More About Playful City USA
KaBOOM! has 12 years of history working at the local level partnering with community groups to build playgrounds and advocate for the importance of play in the lives of all children in communities across America
To truly ensure a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America, KaBOOM! believes that we must rally thousands of advocates across the country to make play a part of our nation's political agenda.
This is why we launched Playful City USA, to serve as a national platform for recognizing and honoring the hard work of municipal leaders and community activists who come together to address the issue of play community wide.