KaBOOM! Names Holly Among 151 “Playful City USA” Communities
Communities Fighting Play Deficit by Implementing Policies to Increase Play Opportunities for Children
Posted on: September 5th, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With only 1-in-5 children in the U.S. currently living within walking distance of a park or playground, 151 cities and towns, including Holly, earned recognition from national non-profit KaBOOM! as 2011 Playful City USA communities for their efforts to increase play opportunities for children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is important to healthy brain development and allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generations in part because only 20-percent live within walking distance of a park or playground. This Play Deficit is having profound consequences for kids physically as well as mentally and socially because children need a place to play every day in order to be active and healthy.
A key platform in combating the Play Deficit is Playful City USA, a national program advocating for local policies that increase play opportunities for children. KaBOOM!, the national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play, created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the Play Deficit by ensuring their children have the time and space they need to play.
“Becoming a Playful City USA is a great honor and achievement for Holly,” said Holly Township Supervisor Jesse Lambert, who is also the vice-president of the Holly Outdoor Recreation Coalition (HORC), who worked with the Village of Holly, Holly Township, their respective parks boards, and Holly Area Schools to apply for this project. “The benefits to our play areas and parks is magnified by the fact that this is a true, collaborative effort across municipalities and organizations.”
Hailing from 38 states and one territory, the 151 Playful City USA honorees range in size from five-time honorees such as Atlanta and San Francisco to first-time recipient Gypsum, Colo. (population: 4,000). 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. In doing so, some of the most innovative concepts and cost-effective programs are being developed in Playful City USA communities.
In the fifth year of the annual program, 19 Playful City USA communities received recognition for the fifth consecutive year, while 24 earned honors for the fourth time, 29 for the third time, 30 for the second time and 49 claimed their first Playful City USA designation.
For the fourth consecutive year, Florida paced the nation with 20 Playful City USA communities. California earned second-place with 14 communities after sharing runner-up honors with Arizona in 2009 and 2010. Arizona finished third with 11 Playful City USA communities.
Each of the 2011 Playful City USA communities demonstrated creative commitments to addressing the Play Deficit.Playful CityUSAcelebrates and highlights these unique initiatives developed by communities across the country. A primary goal ofPlayful CityUSA is to encourage cities and towns to share creative ideas, concepts and programs in an effort to increase play opportunities for children. City initiatives include:
KaBOOM! also selected Holly for its outstanding dedication to play. Holly developed an Action Plan that includes a number of tangible projects to increase access to play. The town identified areas where they could improve and expand playspaces and will tackle this work in the next year.
“As we were developing our action plan, some deficiencies in our play facilities really began to stand out,” said Ryan Bladzik, HORC president. “The Playful City USA task force did an outstanding job in identifying these, as well as coming up with some doable solutions.”
The 151 Playful City USA communities are now eligible for grants via Let’s Play – a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids active nationwide. The first Let’s Play initiative is a $15 million, three-year commitment to KaBOOM!. Together, through Let’s Play, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and KaBOOM! will build or fix up 2,000 playgrounds by the end of 2013, benefiting an estimated five million children across North America.
Recipients of 2011 Let’s Play grants via the Playful City USA program will be announced on Monday, Sept. 19. A total of 103 grants worth $2.1 million are available to Playful City USA recognized cities and towns between 2011-13. Grants range in values of $30,000, $20,000 and $15,000. The $30,000 and $15,000 grants are available for projects relating to joint-use agreements and the $20,000 grants will be awarded to cities using the community playground build process. Cities also are eligible to receive multiple grants during the three-year period. Dr Pepper Snapple Group, a member of the leadership circle within the KaBOOM! National Partner Program, is providing the funding for the grants.
“The Play Deficit continues to harm our children and stifle their mental and physical development, while directly facilitating the ongoing childhood obesity crisis,” said Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! Founder and CEO and author of The New York Times Best Seller KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play. “These 151 Playful City USA communities have joined KaBOOM! in making a collective statement that we will no longer accept the misconception that play is a luxury when the reality is that play is an absolute necessity for children. Holly is committed to the well-being of children and serves as an outstanding role model for the rest of America as we continue to strive toward the KaBOOM! vision of a great place to play within walking distance of every child.”
For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including Let’s Play grants and applications for 2012 and a list of the 2011 Playful City USA recipients, visit www.kaboom.org/playfulcityusa.
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to saving play. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, a fact that is having disastrous consequences on their health, achievement levels, and overall well-being. To fight this Play Deficit, social entrepreneur Darell Hammond founded non-profit KaBOOM! 15 years ago in Washington, D.C. with a vision of creating a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since then, KaBOOM! has mapped over 85,000 places to play, built more than 2,000 playgrounds, and successfully advocated for play policies in hundreds of cities across the country. KaBOOM! also provides communities with online tools to self-organize and take action to support play on both a local and national level. Hammond chronicles the founding of the organization and the importance of the cause of play in his The New York Times Best Seller KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play. The book details how businesses and communities can work together to save play for children across the country. All author proceeds support KaBOOM!. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.
About the Holly Outdoor Recreation Coalition
The Holly Outdoor Recreation Coalition (HORC) is a non-profit organization based in Holly, Mich., that promotes outdoor recreation and activities; health and wellness; education and conservation of natural resources; and small-town community building through rural advocacy in Northwest Oakland County. The HORC partners with area leaders, governments and organizations to enhance the quality of outdoor activities and recreation facilities with the guiding principles of being action-oriented, cooperative and utilizing strength in numbers. For more information, visit www.hollyorc.org.