Playful City USA

Playful City USA Stories

Playful City USA communities utilize play as an innovative solution to address a number of challenges facing kids, families and communities. In turn, these communities retain a competitive advantage by creating healthier, more vibrant communities where families want to live and companies want to do business.

Our Playful City USA cities are becoming hotbeds of innovation to increase playability. The stories below highlight a number of our honorees and what they've done to make their communities more playable for all kids.

PCUSA 2017 Richmond CA
Richmond, CA

Policy, play, and community

Richmond successfully combines policy, play, and community, a rare feat that's difficult to achieve in many cities. Utilizing their Health and Wellness plan, the city was able to integrate park improvements, complete street policies, and pop-up parks that would help eliminate major stressors their community members face.


PCUSA 2017 Baltimore
Baltimore, MD

Programs to connect schools and neighborhoods

To enhance the connection between schools and their surrounding neighborhoods, the Department of Planning launched a program called INSPIRE (Investing in Neighborhoods and Schools to Promote Improvement, Revitalization, and Excellence). This planning program makes recommendations on how to improve the neighborhood environment and improve quality of life for students, their families, and all neighborhood residents near schools that are being modernized through the 21st Century program.


PCUSA 2017 Evans CO
Evans, CO

Redesigning after disaster

After facing a devastating flood that uncovered a landfill under portions of Evans's signature park, Evans faced the challenge of creating a safe park space and mitigating future floods. In collaboration with FEMA, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, and the EPA, the city is planning to not only restore the park, but design it in such a way that it will be less affected in the next flood event. Restoration efforts will begin once the re-design is complete.


2017 PCUSA Story Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA

Envisioning a neighborhood of play

The Greater Hazelwood Play Trail (HPT) is a long-term, community development project. It promotes unconventional play-based learning and demonstrates how play can be used as a catalyst for community development. The HPT includes both a conceptual component, building a playful mindset and envisioning a "neighborhood of play," as well as the physical construction of a playful pathway linking together existing and developing playful opportunities.


Metro McAllen Swing and Ride
McAllen, TX

Making play the easy choice for parents

To address busy schedules and parents' lack of time to prioritize play, McAllen is reaching residents where they are through the McAllen Swing and Ride, located directly in front of the McAllen Public Library. The Swing and Ride, which received funding from KaBOOM! through the Play Everywhere Challenge, features a swing set, oversized musical instruments, and painted sidewalks.


PCUSA 2017 Charlotte NC
Charlotte, NC

Open Streets

Charlotte is implementing open streets as a way to tackle the lack of play due to parent's busy schedules. Families are encouraged to participate in a wide range of physical activity via the open streets program. This initiative has also led to a higher level of cross department collaboration within the City of Charlotte.


Playful City USA Story Richmond Virginia Arcpark
Richmond, VA

Bridging the gap with play

Richmond successfully combines policy, play, and community, a rare feat that's difficult to achieve in many cities. Utilizing their Health and Wellness plan, the city was able to integrate park improvements, complete street policies, and pop-up parks that would help eliminate major stressors their community members face.

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PCUSA 2016 Story - Gilbert, AZ
Gilbert, AZ

Gilbert uses play to train a dragon

The city showcases numerous multicultural events that bring knowledge and play to its citizens.


Kissimmee, FL

Playability completes community

Redevelopments, programs, and events have helped reshape the Kissimmee communities outlook on play.


Hallandale Beach, FL

Hallandale Beach’s My Park

Hallandale Parks and Recs gives a funky breakdown of their play lifestyle


PCUSA 2016 Story - York, PA
York, PA

Creating play spaces that anyone can access while going to school, work, shopping, or daily-life.

York is jumping on the play everywhere bandwagon with a committee representing business, art, faith, and community organizations. In addition to planned bus shelters with bike parking and play areas, the city has already implemented 10 new sidewalk murals.


Providence, RI

Pop-up Play in Providence

Providence brings pop-up play to kids every summer!


Lincoln, NE

Lincoln Nebraska tells its Community, "Let's Play!"

Lincoln encourages kids to play in the city’s parks, playgrounds, trails, and recreation centers for one hour every day.