How to champion and create
kid-friendly, playful cities
Leveraging both our own play infrastructure expertise and our successful collaborations with cities and partners, we've explored, encouraged and developed a number of successful approaches to creating kid-friendly cities with equitable access to safe, quality play experiences. With input and insight from city and community leaders, health experts, urban planners and affected families, we've created this toolkit – the Play Everywhere Playbook.
When we design with kids in mind, everyone benefits
Our cities' futures are inextricably tied to the success of our kids. Unfortunately, we are in danger of unintentionally designing kids and families right out of that future.
Though cities have made great strides when it comes to increasing livability factors, as municipal budgets inevitably tighten, the kid-focused amenities of many city master plans are usually the first lines to get cut. When this happens, it has a disproportionate impact on kids growing up in under-resourced communities.
As cities increasingly cater to young adults, they are at risk of becoming unaffordable to families, and inaccessible when it comes to offering great places to play.
But we can turn it around, one community at a time.
By working with partners across the country, KaBOOM! has increased the numbers of playgrounds in cities and ensured equitable access to them. By understanding the day-to-day challenges these kids and their families face and addressing them on a community level, we're helping to make play an easier choice.
What equity means to KaBOOM!
KaBOOM! recognizes that kids and families have different barriers and opportunities to live active, healthy and playful lives in safe and connected communities. Equity at KaBOOM! is a value that addresses the effects of social, racial and economic differences that create disparate outcomes for people in areas like health, education and employment. In order for KaBOOM! to achieve our vision of, "All kids getting the childhood they deserve filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive," we must understand the barriers that exist for the kids we serve, and address them through our work to transform the built environment.
How to use the Playbook
Our hope is that the ideas, design guides and case studies shared here will inform and inspire the work of a diverse coalition of leaders, implementers, advocates and change-agents who share a commitment to creating kid-friendly and playful cities. These individuals include, but are by no means limited to:
- City leaders
Use the Playbook to promote, prioritize and enable Play Everywhere. By promoting, prioritizing and enabling Play Everywhere, city leaders can address inequity in the built environment by providing easy access to play opportunities in communities where they do not exist. They can create vibrant communities where young families can thrive, build and foster connections. Where there is Play Everywhere, there is also safety, attracting more "eyes on the street" and social cohesion that deters crime.
- Project implementers *
Use the Playbook to create projects, plans and designs that help kids thrive. Project implementers can channel their creativity and placemaking abilities to engage our communities’ greatest resources – kids. The Playbook has the tips and guides needed to leverage a potential project user's professional skills to create communities where kids thrive – what could be more rewarding than that? * Built environment professionals, public health professionals, business and community development professionals/advocates, artists
Use the Playbook to attract foot traffic and build relationships with customers. Play Everywhere projects in front of businesses and along business corridors can translate into increased foot traffic. Visitors choose to stay longer, before and after play and discover new businesses that meet the needs of their families. Families that feel supported by their business community in turn supports them and businesses gain more loyal customers.
- Child and family serving non-profit organizations
Use the Playbook to create projects that expand your impact. Play Everywhere can help a kid's healthy brain development. These projects allow kids to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive and emotional strength. Play Everywhere can also help build confidence and resiliency, and enhances learning readiness and problem‑solving. Playing together with parents has been shown to help build enduring relationships between kids and parents.
- Community development organizations
Use the Playbook to ensure your community is a unique, fun, safe place that fosters strong relationships between neighbors. Play Everywhere projects can be an inexpensive yet potentially transformational strategy to create a "sense of place" in a community. When everyday spaces in communities are activated, beautified and instilled with a sense of wonder, this not only enhances the physical character and identity of a place, but can also result in benefits that range from economic development to improved social ties. In this way, Play Everywhere not only makes communities more interesting and supportive places to live; it also helps cities distinguish or "brand" themselves when competing for residents, jobs, and talent.
The Playbook is intended, above all, as a tool for action—for envisioning, designing and implementing creative opportunities for play in communities so kids and families may thrive. It is envisioned as a dynamic, living document that is supported by an expanding, continuously updated library of digital content and additional resources on the KaBOOM! website. The Playbook will grow and evolve over time as more communities across the country implement amazing ideas and demonstrate the value of Play Everywhere.