KaBOOM! and America’s Promise Alliance Award New Playground to St. Petersburg Link copied!

September 23, 2008

Washington, D.C.

KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing play back into the lives of children and America’s Promise Alliance today announced that the city of St. Petersburg, FL has been selected to receive a brand new community-built playground. This project is made possible by KOOL-AID as part of its partnership with KaBOOM! to build playgrounds across the country. The formal announcement of the city’s selection will take place this evening at the 100 Best Communities for Young People celebration in Washington, DC. The award will be accepted by Mayor Rick Baker.

St. Petersburg was selected as the winning community for its outstanding work to ensure that all children and youth in its community have a safe place to play. The city’s innovative “Play ‘N’ Close to Home” program utilizes public-private partnerships to build public playgrounds within a safe walking distance (1/2 mile) of every child in the city. Since 2004, the program has increased the total access to playspaces by 20 percent in residential areas across the city, in partnership with schools and houses of worship.

In addition, St. Petersburg’s “Open Space Preservation” policy puts a premium on usable recreation and open space acreage, ensuring no net loss across the city, while providing and maintaining quality play opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

St. Petersburg was selected among 14 eligible communities. To qualify for the playground, communities must have been named one of the 2008 100 Best Communities for Young People and a 2008 Playful City USA community as part of the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play.

“Programs like 100 Best Communities for Young People and Playful City USA serve an important function by recognizing municipalities that strengthen the quality of life for their residents, by focusing on children,” said Darell Hammond, CEO of KaBOOM!. “These communities have created programs that will spark positive change for kids throughout the nation. We need to spread the word on what these cities have been doing so that others may follow their example.”

A three-time 100 Best winner, America’s Promise Alliance has long recognized St. Petersburg for its innovative and effective programs to help young people and families. For example, the city’s Healthy Start Coalition brings agencies and committed citizens together to ensure pregnant women, their infants and their families have access to the appropriate health information. Other programs include the Teen Arts, Sports & Cultural Opportunities (TASCO). TASCO offers a variety of youth development programs for teens in grades six through twelve including athletic, educational, entertainment programming, and special events and dances. TASCO also facilitates volunteer service among youth.

“America’s Promise Alliance is grateful to KaBOOM! and KOOL-AID for this opportunity to reward a community that embodies what it means to put children and families first,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, president and CEO of the America’s Promise Alliance. “Too many young people across the country do not have a great place to play within walking distance. The good people of St. Petersburg saw an opportunity to change that in their city with their “Play ‘N’ Close to Home” program and we’re proud to be able to honor those efforts and serve thousands more children with this brand new playground.”

The city has selected a section of Trailhead Park on which to construct the new playground in December. The site currently does not have playground equipment and is located in an area of the city with some of the highest concentration of youth and single-parent run households. The city plans to work with Alliance partner YMCA to ensure that children are involved in every step of the process, especially in the design of the playground. The Build Day will feature volunteers from across the city with the Council on Neighborhood Associations playing a lead role in recruiting individuals and organizations to help.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker said, “Children are our future, and a top priority of my administration. Through our schools initiative, through our commitment to build a playground within a half mile walk of every child in the city, and through St. Petersburg’s award-winning recreation programs that instill character-building, children are at the cornerstone of everything we do in St. Petersburg. If we build a great city for our kids, we create a great future that every resident in St. Petersburg will enjoy for generations to come.”

100 Best is a bi-annual competition held by the America’s Promise Alliance and its partner Capital One, where 100 outstanding communities across America are recognized as the best places for young people to live and grow up. Playful City USA is the KaBOOM! national recognition program honoring cities and towns across the nation that have created an agenda to bring play back into the lives of their children.

To learn more about the 100 Best Communities for Young People competition and the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program visit: www.americaspromise.org/100best and www.kaboom.org.