The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Did Your Community Make the "Playful City USA" List?

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Thursday, Jul 23, 2009

KaBOOM, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing play back into children's lives, recently released its third annual list of "Playful City USA" communities. To make this list, communities must make creative commitments to the cause of play in the areas of quantity, quality and access.

Quantity relates to the number of usable, open playspaces. For example, the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation department is conducting a study that would involve converting abandoned housing and vacant lots and turning them into urban mini parks.

Quality involves subjective factors that encourage repeated use and make playspaces engaging, exciting, interesting, and fun. For example, the San Francisco Neighborhood Parks Council (SFNPC) developed a Playground Report Card, which analyzes and rates playspaces in San Francisco. The Report Card gave letter grades to all the playgrounds, with the San Francisco Parks and Recreation department and SFNPC then taking action by bringing all the failing parks up to standard.

Access entails the ability to get to a playspace (roads, trails) and a lack of barriers to the playspace (cost, safety, traffic, locked gates, equity). For example, the New York City Parks and Recreation Department will break ground and revamp 221 playgrounds that require improvement throughout the City, while also targeting underdeveloped destination parks for each borough in 2009. This City is also working toward the creation of a public plaza in every community in partnership with non-profit groups, particularly in neighborhoods that lack open space.

93 communities across the United States made the "Playful City USA" list. Was yours one of them? Click here to find out. If not, click here to find out how KaBOOM can help build or improve a playspace in your neighborhood.