Today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation, but 213 cities and towns, including Chula Vista, 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 1-in-5 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.
“It’s important to lend support to the many local networks that provide opportunities for play. Playful City USA leads the way nationally and it is a perfect fit for Chula Vista’s award winning Parks and Recreation program,” said Councilmember Pamela Bensoussan who took the lead in bringing this program to our city. “I appreciate the Playful City USA recognition as it fits with the City of Chula Vista Recreation Department’s goal to create more accessibility to recreational resources,” said Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox. “Our city’s San Miguel Ranch Community Park was recently recognized by the California Parks and Recreation Society for its user friendly design and programmable elements. We look forward to creating more opportunities through the Playful City USA program to enhance our park system and recreation programs.”
Hailing from 41 states, the 213 Playful City USA honorees range in size from six-time honorees such as Orlando and Phoenix to first-time recipient Independence, Oregon (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,” says 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 Chula Vista 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.”
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.
KaBOOM! selected Chula Vista for its outstanding dedication to play. Chula Vista aims to increase access to additional playspaces through joint use agreements. Additionally, the city will utilize programs such as “Love Your Block” to subsidize projects that help to clean and maintain neighborhoods in Chula Vista.
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, 2012.
For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including Let’s Play grants and applications for 2013, visit www.playfulcityusa.org