News release from Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation:
Mayor celebrates City being named “Playful City USA” for second time
(September 6, 2011) – Fort Wayne is being recognized for our efforts in making play a priority for the health and well-being of our children. When the national picture reveals only 1-in-5 children currently live within walking distance of a park or playground, Fort Wayne is one of 151 cities named a 2011 Playful City USA Community by the national non-profit organization, KaBOOM!
Fort Wayne earned this distinction for the second year due to our outstanding dedication to increasing play opportunities for children.
“Our parks and playgrounds bring us a quality of life that those of us with children and grandchildren especially appreciate,” Mayor Tom Henry said. “It is an honor for our city to once again be recognized for the vast array of recreational activities that our community has to offer. We go to great lengths to ensure that they have access to parks, playgrounds and other recreation areas that provide them opportunities to stay fit, healthy and ready to learn.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is important to healthy brain development and allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.
KaBOOM!, the national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play, created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the Play Deficit by ensuring their children have the time and space they need to play.
“Fort Wayne’s Play Task Force, made up of Parks & Recreation staff and our partners from Turnstone, the League for the Blind and Disabled, the YMCA and Easter Seals Arc, should be commended for their hard work,” said Director Al Moll. “They’ve focused the last two years on inclusiveness, safety and education about why play is important and have done an excellent job.”
Topping the list of Fort Wayne’s accomplishments was the completion of Indiana’s first fully-accessible playground in Kreager Park. Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground is a place for all children to play together and was opened to the public in June. Children were trained to be experts on the play equipment in order to instruct others during the grand opening. A subcommittee of therapists (physical, occupational, recreational) reviewed the Boundless Playground equipment and are creating a therapeutic tool for therapists and organizations that serve children with disabilities.
All of the City’s park playgrounds have been entered into KaBOOM’s Playspace finder (www.kaboom.org ). It’s a site where everyone can participate by adding comments and pictures about their favorite playgrounds. Area schools and the public are also encouraged to upload information.
The National Recreation & Park Association (NRPA) created a safety guide for parents to use on playgrounds, including backyard playgrounds called “The Dirty Dozen.” It can be found for downloading at www.fortwayneparks.org on the Playful City page, which is located under Youth Programs.
The adopt-a-playground program was expanded. Twelve playgrounds have been adopted this year by organizations who have committed to cleaning up the playground three times a year for two years.
Five Play Days were held this summer at various locations, starting in May with the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day at Parkview Field. More than 5000 people attended Play Days in 2011.
Finally, the Task Force incorporated healthy eating information at 14 summer playground sites this summer.
“The Play Deficit continues to harm our children and stifle their mental and physical development, while directly facilitating the ongoing childhood obesity crisis,” said Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! Founder and CEO and author of The New York Times Best Seller KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play. “These 151 Playful City USA communities have joined KaBOOM! in making a collective statement that we will no longer accept the misconception that play is a luxury when the reality is that play is an absolute necessity for children. Fort Wayne is committed to the well-being of children and serves as an outstanding role model for the rest of America as we continue to strive toward the KaBOOM! vision of a great place to play within walking distance of every child.”
The 151 Playful City USA communities are now eligible for grants via Let’s Play – a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids active nationwide. The first Let’s Play initiative is a $15 million, three-year commitment to KaBOOM!. Together, through Let’s Play, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and KaBOOM! will build or fix up 2,000 playgrounds by the end of 2013, benefiting an estimated five million children across North America.
Recipients of 2011 Let’s Play grants via the Playful City USA program will be announced on Monday, Sept. 19. A total of 103 grants worth $2.1 million are available to Playful City USA recognized cities and towns between 2011-13. Grants range in values of $30,000, $20,000 and $15,000. The $30,000 and $15,000 grants are available for projects relating to joint-use agreements and the $20,000 grants will be awarded to cities using the community playground build process. Cities also are eligible to receive multiple grants during the three-year period. Dr Pepper Snapple Group, a member of the leadership circle within the KaBOOM! National Partner Program, is providing the funding for the grants.
For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including Let’s Play grants and applications for 2012, visit.