One of the many interesting workshops at the Congress of Cities meeting in Orlando was “Building a Playful City.” This also seemed to be one of the most attended workshops.
A panel of five discussed the many challenges children face today that end up keeping them off the playground and out of the park. Time spent on computers, video games, and television were high on the list of reasons not to play and exercise. This was followed by the “I’m bored” with nothing to do story. Finally, some of our youth are just plain lazy.
We were told that forty-seven percent of children in America are over weight. It was also estimated that fifty-two percent of elementary schools across the country have tatally eliminated recess.
One member of the panel told a story about the school his child attended. The school was changing the menu in the cafeteria and planned on only offering healthier items. This would eliminate Sloppy Joe’s, etc. as a lunch item. A public hearing was held on the issue and an over two hundred parents attended to voice their displeasure with this new plan
Several weeks later a public hearing was also held concerning the elimination of recess at the school. At this public hearing, only two parents came to voice their opposition to this idea. Seems that these childrens parents priorities are a little mixed up on what should really be important, I believe.
KaBOOM ( www.kaboom.org) is an organization that helps cities become “Playful Cities.” Their goal is to have a safe place for children to play within walking distance from their home. There are five requirements for cities that wish to be designated a “Playful City.” These commitments are:
- Create a local play commission task force
- Design an annual action plan for play
- Conduct a play-space audit of all publicly accessible play areas
- Identify current spending on capital projects and maintenance of play-spaces
- Proclaim and celebrate an annual “Play Day.”
By becoming a “Playful City USA,” your city can receive grants, technical support, on-line resources, media support, playground builds, and more. Most of all you will be letting your community that your are committed in making your city a place where children can have access to safe, clean play facilities.
There are only 67 “Playful Cities” out of the over five thousand cities in the United States. I believe Sanford should become a “Playful City USA.” We’re on the right track now with the new pocket park program. This will take more effort, time and funding. I believe this type investment in our community and our children is long over due.
For more information contact Steve Brewer at 919-770-9587.