Playful City USA, sponsored by the Humana Foundation, is an application-based national recognition program honoring cities and towns that make play a priority and use innovative programs to get children active, playing, and healthy. Playful City USA communities make a commitment to play and physical activity by developing unique local action plans to increase the access to 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. KaBOOM!, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to saving play, created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the Play Deficit.1
There were 31 founding Playful City USA communities in 20072 and more than double that number in 2008.3 By 2011, there were 151 communities recognized, including 19 of the original Playful City USA communities who had received this honor all five years of the program. As to state participation, Florida led the nation with 20 Playful City USA communities.4
In 2012, the sixth year of the annual program, 19 communities received recognition for the sixth consecutive year, while 24 earned honors for the fifth time, 27 for the fourth time, 29 for the third time, 45 for the second time, and 69 claimed their first Playful City USA designation. 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.5
Playful City USA designees map local playspaces, complete a needs assessment, and develop an action plan that identifies a minimum of three policies, programs, or initiatives aimed at increasing access to play at school, in neighborhoods, and through community engagement.
Playful City USA communities are 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.6 In addition, all communities receive street signs identifying the community’s commitment to children, national and local media support, a customized marketing kit, and access to free trainings.7
- 1. “Playful City USA Program Details.” KaBOOM!. <http://kaboom.org/take_action/playful_city_usa/program_details>. 24 May 2012.
- 2. “Who We Are.” PlayAtlanta. < http://playatlanta.ning.com/ > 30 Aug. 2011.
- 3. “The City of Atlanta Wins its Second Playful City USA Award.” Georgia Front Page. < http://georgiafrontpage.blogspot.com/2008/09/city-of-atlanta-wins-its-second-playful.html > 30 Aug. 2011.
- 4. “List of 2011 Playful City USA Communities.” KaBOOM! < http://kaboom.org/take_action/playful_city_usa/2011_playful_city_usa_communities > 4 Sep. 2011.
- 5. “Prioritizing Play for Children: Non-Profit Organization KaBOOM! Announces 213 “Playful City USA” Communities.” KaBOOM!. < http://kaboom.org/press_release/prioritizing_play_children_non_profit_organization_kaboom_announces_213_%E2%80%9Cplayful_city_ > 24 May 2012.
- 6. “Playful City USA Grants.” KaBOOM! < http://kaboom.org/take_action/playful_city_usa/program_details/playful_city_usa_grants > 24 May 2012.
- 7. Personal correspondence from KaBOOM! to Playground Professionals. 24 May 2012.