Playful City USA: El Paso
From the March 2008 issue of Texas Town & City magazine
Reprinted with permission
Play among children is on the decline throughout the United States. Childhood obesity rates have more than doubled in the last 20 years. Increasingly, children lack a safe and enjoyable playground within walking distance in their neighborhood.
In an effort to improve the state of play, the national non-profit organization KaBOOM! launched its Playful City USA initiative in 2007 as part of its National Campaign for Play. In October, KaBOOM! announced the 31 founding Playful City USA communities. Cities like Atlanta and San Francisco made the cut. But so did communities like Wapello, Iowa (population 2,200) and Shirley, Mass. (population 7,600).
The lone representative from the Lone Star State was El Paso.
And the city is extremely proud.
"After this designation, and being the only city in Texas that was honored, El Pasoans are very proud and joyful that the city has received such recognition and that this will help lead the way on other future promotional and tourism related opportunities," El Paso Recreation Services Manager Joe Rodriguez said.
To Rodriguez, who was instrumental in the application process, it was common sense that El Paso should apply to be recognized for the city's efforts. El Paso had previously made a commitment to providing a substantial amount of open space to its residents and the Playful City USA program matched the city's ideals.
"Here in El Paso, we have always known that we are a playful city due to our wonderful year-round sunny weather and our friendly and easy-going citizens," Rodriguez said. "We have over 200 parks, 24 recreation centers and 14 swimming pools and when these facilities are open they are used to their fullest potential."
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