WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation, but 213 cities and towns, including North Liberty, earned recognition from national non-profit KaBOOM! as 2012 Playful City USA communities for their efforts to increase play opportunities for children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is critical to healthy brain development. It allows children to use their creativity while simultaneously developing imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive and emotional strength. Yet today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation in part because only one in five live within walking distance of a park or playground. The resulting play deficit is having profound consequences for kids physically, socially and academically.
Presented by The Humana Foundation, Playful City USA is a national program advocating for local policies that increase play opportunities for children and is a key platform in combating the play deficit.
KaBOOM!, the national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play, created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the play deficit and it is through mayors, city council members, parks and recreation departments, school districts and community leaders that the program succeeds in benefitting children.
“The City of North Liberty is excited to be a new honoree named to the Playful City USA list of honorees. We are looking forward to increasing our access to play,” said Tracey Mulcahey, North Liberty Assistant City Administrator.
Hailing from 41 states, the 213 Playful City USA honorees range in size from honorees such as Orlando and Phoenix to first-time recipient Independence, Ore. (population: 9,607). These Playful City USA communities are making a commitment to play and physical activity by developing unique local action plans to increase the quantity and quality of play in their community.
“Some of the most innovative concepts and cost-effective programs are being developed in Playful City USA communities,” said Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO of KaBOOM! and author of The New York Times Best Seller “KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play.” “Cities like North Liberty are key allies in the fight to combat the play deficit and serve as outstanding role models for government and community leaders across the country.”
For the fifth consecutive year, Florida paced the nation with 29 Playful City USA communities. California earned second-place with 24 communities, while Texas finished third with 14 Playful City USA communities.
Each of the 2012 Playful City USA communities demonstrated creative commitments to addressing the play deficit. Playful City USA celebrates and highlights these unique initiatives developed by communities across the country. A primary goal of Playful City USA is to encourage cities and towns to share ideas, concepts and programs in an effort to increase play opportunities for children. City initiatives include Ferguson, Mo., Houston, Texas, Pico Rivera, Calif., Providence, R.I. and Starkville, Miss.
KaBOOM! also selected North Liberty for its outstanding dedication to play. North Liberty is committed to creating a family-friendly community with ample play opportunities for children. The city partners with community groups to create a strategy for after-school programming for youth, which creates better access to play for North Liberty’s children.
The 213 Playful City USA communities are now eligible for $15,000, $20,000 and $30,000 grants via Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, to get kids and families active nationwide. Grant recipients will be announced on June 4.
For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including Let’s Play grants and applications for 2013, visit www.playfulcityusa.org .