Today’s generation of children play less than any previous generation despite the vast benefits of play. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being of children.
Sponsored by the Humana Foundation, Playful City USA is a national program from KaBOOM! that celebrates and promotes local policies that increase play opportunities for children and is a key platform in combating the lack of play among children.
“Etowah is extremely honored to receive this recognition,” said Brian Silber, Parks and Recreation director. “This recognition does not, however, mean that our job is over or that we have achieved everything we need to or want to in our parks. This recognition shows that we are moving in the right direction. Etowah was able to receive this honor due to the countless hours of work of not only our staff but also our volunteers, and the vision and guidance of our city leadership both past and present.”
“I am very excited about Etowah being honored as a Playful City USA city for 2013,” said Matthew Gravley, city manager.
“One of the reasons I returned to my hometown to take on the challenge of being city manager was due to my many fond memories of Etowah from my childhood. This recognition is one more step in our process to ensure that our children today will have a healthy, safe and enjoyable childhood and an abundance of fond memories of Etowah as they grow and become parents themselves.”
“I am very proud of our city for being recognized as a Playful City,” said Etowah Mayor Jim Bull. “When I decided to run for the City Commission, one of my goals was to help Etowah improve and this national recognition is another example of how Etowah is improving due to the hard work and dedication of our staff.
KaBOOM!, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to giving kids the childhood they deserve by bringing play to those who need it most, created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the lack of play and it is through mayors, city council members, parks and recreation departments, school districts and community leaders that the program succeeds in benefitting children.
“Kids need to play actively, every day, at home, in school and in their communities, yet play is disappearing,” said Darell Hammond, founder and CEO of KaBOOM! and author of The New York Times Best Seller “KaBOOM!: A Movement to Save Play.”
“Children spend nearly eight hours a day in front of a screen; almost half of all poor students are deprived of recess; and to make matters worse, only one in five children live within walking distance of a park. Playful City USA communities like Etowah are creating innovative programs and initiatives and deserve recognition because of their efforts to give kids the childhood they deserve and best prepare them for their future.”
Hailing from 43 states, the 217 Playful City USA honorees range in size from seven-time honorees such as San Francisco and Spartanburg, S.C., to first-time recipient Ellsworth, Kan. (population: 3,100). These Playful City USA communities are making a commitment to play and to physical activity by developing unique local action plans to increase the quantity and quality of play in their community.
Each of the 2013 Playful City USA communities demonstrated creative commitments to addressing the lack of play among children. 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! also selected Etowah for its outstanding dedication to play. In an effort to increase play opportunities for children three years ago, Etowah created a parks and recreation department, and in the past year has improved the overall safety and capabilities of local parks and offered summer camps for the first time. The city recently demolished a condemned building and is now working with a local college class to redesign the property into an inviting, accessible and enjoyable park for citizens.
The 217 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 in the fall.