The City of Fort Lauderdale has earned national recognition as a 2012 Playful City USA community from the non-profit organization KaBOOM! Today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation, but the City of Fort Lauderdale has earned the national title due to its efforts to increase play opportunities for local children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is critical to healthy brain development. It allows children to use their creativity while simultaneously developing imagination and dexterity as well as physical, cognitive and emotional strength. However, today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation in part because only 1-in-5 live within walking distance of a park or playground. The resulting play deficit is having profound consequences for kids physically, socially and academically.
Each of the 2012 Playful City USA communities demonstrated creative commitments to addressing the play deficit. 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! selected Fort Lauderdale for its outstanding dedication to play. The Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department and the School Board of Broward County negotiated a five-year agreement for shared use of parks and school facilities. The city hopes to expand opportunities to play by negotiating joint use agreements with other area schools in addition to the six existing agreements
Presented by The Humana Foundation, Playful City USA is a national program advocating for local policies that increase play opportunities for children and is a key platform in combating the play deficit. Playful City USA communities are eligible for $15,000, $20,000 and $30,000 grants via Let’s Play, a community partnership led by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, to get kids and families active nationwide.
"Some of the most innovative concepts and cost-effective programs are being developed in Playful City USA communities," says Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO of KaBOOM!, "Cities like Fort Lauderdale are key allies in the fight to combat the play deficit and serve as outstanding role models for government and community leaders across the country."
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.
KaBOOM!, the national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play, created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the play deficit and it is through mayors, city council members, parks and recreation departments, school districts and community leaders that the program succeeds in benefitting children.
For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, please visit www.playfulcityusa.org.