(Washington, DC) — The KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play today announced the 31 founding members of the Playful City USA initiative.  Playful City USA is a national recognition program that honors cities and towns across the nation for a vision, plan and commitment to creating an agenda for play. Cities were recognized based on a pledge to five specific commitments to play:

  1. Creating a local play commission or task force;
  2. Designing an annual action plan for play;
  3. Conducting a play space audit;
  4. Outlining a financial investment in play for the current fiscal year; and
  5. Proclaiming and celebrating an annual“play day.”

The founding members of Playful City USA have activated powerful citizenship by creating play agendas with deep and lasting impact on public policy issues including childhood obesity, public safety, and quality of life issues. Through the collaborative support of corporate and community resources, these civically-grounded cities are inspiring and transforming lives; building strong and healthy communities, and fostering brighter futures.

“Playful City USA reflects the hope, opportunity and possibility inherent in municipal collaborations anchored by a shared vision for play,” said Darell Hammond, Co-Founder and CEO of KaBOOM! “The innovative practices these cities adopted are a call-to-action for other municipalities across the country to rally behind proactive, city-wide agendas in support of broader physical activity and play.”

Founding members of Playful City USA include:

Ankeny, IA, Atlanta, Ga., Canton, Ga., Cedar City, UT, Chandler, Ariz., Creedmoor, N.C., Dothan, Ala., East Cleveland, OH, El Paso, TX, Gilbert, Ariz., Greenbelt, Md., Jamestown, N.Y., Kenner, La., Kerman, Calif., Kingsburg, Calif., Lake Charles, La., Lake Worth, Fla., Longview, Wash., Mountain Grove, Mo., New Lenox, Ill., New Roads, La., Norfolk, Va., Phoenix, Ariz. , Portsmouth, OH, San Francisco, Calif., San Jose, Calif., Shirley, Mass., Spartanburg, S.C., Tucson, Ariz., Wapello, IA, Yuma, Ariz.

A number of Playful City USA founding members have created and implemented pioneering play commitments.  In San Francisco, the Department of Parks and Recreation, along with the non-profit National Parks Council and Mayor Gavin Newsom, created Parkscan to assess the conditions and safety of the city’s playgrounds. In a city where identifying and maintaining open space can be a challenge, communities are now working together to improve and enhance failing playgrounds and play spaces.  City Council members in Creedmoor, NC have enacted legislation to ensure developers include playgrounds and open space in every new neighborhood.  Each May residents in El Paso, TX gather for the annual Ciclovia celebration which closes major thoroughfares and opens them up for walking, family time and safe connections to the city’s playgrounds and open space.

Along with receiving national recognition for blazing a playful trail for other cities, 2007 founding members are eligible to apply for a grant of up to $25,000 to help support one of their playful initiatives.

For cities interested in applying for Playful City USA 2008, KaBOOM! is teaming up with America’s Promise Alliance 100 Best Communities for Young People to provide one lucky city with a brand new KaBOOM! playground. 100 Best is an annual competition that recognizes those cities and towns across America that go above and beyond for children and youth.  Communities who are named one of the 100 Best, and also apply to be named a Playful City USA, will be eligible to receive a new playground in their area.

KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.  Since 1995, KaBOOM! has used its innovative community-build model to bring together business and community interests to construct more than 1,200 new playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks across North America.  KaBOOM! also offers a variety of online resources, regional and national trainings, and the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play which includes Playful City USA and the Playmaker Network- a national network of individual advocates for play. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago, Atlanta and San Mateo, CA.   For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.

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