Today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation, but 213 cities and towns, including Mercer Island, earned recognition from national non-profit KaBOOM! as 2012 Playful City USA communities for their efforts to increase play opportunities for 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, dexterity and physical, cognitive and emotional strength. Yet 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.
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.
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.
KaBOOM! also selected Mercer Island for its outstanding dedication to play. Mercer Island's award winning Adventure Playground gives children the opportunity to play in the woods, use tools to build structures and use their imaginations at Deane’s Children’s Park.
The Parks and Recreation Fun Mobile drop-in program has traveled to different parks through the summer for the last 25 years, providing lawn and water games to kids.
This summer the Fun Mobile program will have a twist. We are bringing back Funtastic Fridays. On Fridays only we will host games, activities, concessions and entertainment at a different park. This is a free drop-in program that we are graciously accepting donations toward.
The Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Department thinks it is important to give youth the opportunity to go outside and play and expose them to new things. Summer should be fun and exciting and spent outdoors!
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to saving play. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, a fact that is having disastrous consequences on their health, achievement levels, and overall well-being.
To fight this play deficit, social entrepreneur Darell Hammond founded non-profit KaBOOM! in 1996 in Washington, D.C. with a vision of creating a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Since then, KaBOOM! has mapped over 89,000 places to play, built more than 2,000 playgrounds, and successfully advocated for play policies in hundreds of cities across the country.
KaBOOM! also provides communities with online tools to self-organize and take action to support play on both a local and national level. Hammond chronicles the founding of the organization and the importance of the cause of play in his TheNew York Times Best Seller KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play. The book details how businesses and communities can work together to save play for children across the country. All author proceeds support KaBOOM!.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., KaBOOM! also has offices in Chicago and San Mateo, Calif. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.
--Information from the City of Mercer Island