The extent to which a city makes it easy for all kids to get balanced and active play


Transforming spaces into great PLAYces

Playgrounds and parks, both big and small, provide joyful oases of play within cities. They are critical to ensuring kids have the absolute best childhood and are key assets to help our kids get the play they need to thrive. To provide an adequate number of play spaces for the 14 million kids living in poverty in this country, KaBOOM! works with, and encourages, cities to employ scalable solutions that can service all kids, regardless of their zip code.

With over 80% of US kids living in urban areas, our nation's future is inextricably linked to the future of kids in cities. Cities have become hotbeds of innovation and they have the power to turn spaces into great PLAYces – into transformative theaters of activity, inspiration, and discovery – and, in the process, to change improve the lives of all kids.

How KaBOOM! drives playability

Play doesn't have to happen in a multi-million dollar park renovation in a wealthy neighborhood. Play can happen in moments of downtime, in expected spaces, and in everyday places. Whether it’s at a grocery store, a bus stop, sidewalk, or laundromat, kids are born to play – and it's up to us to ensure they have plenty of places and opportunities to do so. Here are some of the ways KaBOOM! drives playability.

Kids jumps on iPlay Miami project

Play Everywhere

"Play everywhere" is one way cities, communities, and residents can make a change to their urban fabric – one bus stop or sidewalk at a time.

  Learn more about play everywhere

Playful City USA sign in blue clouds

Playful City USA

One of our signature programs, Playful City USA, honors and recognizes cities that are doing great work to promote play in their communities.

  Learn more about Playful City USA

Play as a competitive advantage for cities

Cities and communities are engaged in a fierce contest for the future. They are competing for businesses, economic development, and jobs. They are competing for residents—for families who will breathe energy and enterprise into their neighborhoods.

Ten years ago, a creative class settled into downtown, urban centers. Condos and coffee shops followed. As the creative class has aged, their value to cities, in spending power and taxable income, has not only grown, but now they are also having children. As their children age, married couples move to the suburbs on the promise of safer streets and better schools, at the cost of an urban lifestyle.

Playability is a key strategy in this struggle to keep young families in cities. Urban leaders are transforming their streetscapes into livable, walkable, bikeable places that attract the creative class, and dramatically improve their citizens’ quality of life. But how do we ensure that these cities also meet the needs of families and kids? To retain this critical sector of people, cities must adapt to new needs and desires – and that means incorporating spaces for kids into city plans.

Ingredients to playability

Scale Playability invites cities and communities to implement play as a solution to whatever challenges they may be facing, and drive impact at a local-level. Play can take so many forms and can be incorporated into the urban fabric in wildly creative ways, and playability encourages cities to take initiative to spur change – based on what their specific needs may be.

Ease Investments in play must be easy and achievable to lead to widespread behavior change. To inspire cities to generate solutions that overcome behavioral bottlenecks that prevent kids from getting adequate play time, we conducted behavioral science research and learned that cities need to incorporate play into unexpected places, thus turning dead time and space into playful experiences.

Equity As we encourage cities to embrace playability and promote ideas for "play everywhere", we need to ensure that play is used to address and alleviate inequity. All families and kids deserve to live in a safe community with ample job opportunities, affordable housing, great schools, and abundant opportunities to play, but we currently have an inequitable distribution of services, resources, and opportunities for low-income families. Consistent with our mission, it is our responsibility to guarantee that cities equitably distribute PLAYces, turning moments of frustration into kid-friendly, creative, and playable moments of joy.