National nonprofit KaBOOM! has honored the City of Garland with a Playful City USA designation for the second time. Playful City USA honors cities and towns across the country for putting the needs of families first so kids can learn, grow and develop important life skills. These communities are transforming ordinary places into playful spaces and using play as a solution to the challenges facing their residents.
The 2017 Playful City USA recognition includes 258 communities across the country that make it as easy as possible for kids to play. In total, these communities feature more than 14,000 safe and engaging playspaces that serve more than 4 million kids.
Garland is a totally built-out community filled with more than 250,000 people. Some of our more urban areas are not in close proximity to green space or a recreation center. This prevents some of our citizens from having an ease of access to play. The City of Garland Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department has initiated Pop Up and Play events at our local apartment complexes. The department brings out program instructors, games and information on our programs to sites selected based off their proximity to local parks or green space. Apartment complexes more than two miles from green space are a high priority due to the inaccessibility of open space and play structures. We take the play space to the people! Creating spaces in children's backyards (which is usually just a cement jungle) not only opens them up to play during the event, but also it helps them reimagine play after the program ends.
“We are excited to be recognized for the second year in a row as a KaBOOM! Playful City USA!” said Mayor Douglas Athas. “This is another example of the hard work, commitment and dedication we have to our community in ensuring safe and healthy parks and recreation environments for everyone. Providing fun and accessible activities for youth in the community is essential, and through our partnerships we are able to continue being progressive and innovative."
As cities are becoming hotbeds for innovation, communities across the country are creating inventive ways to attract and retain residents. Playful City USA honorees are taking bold action to ensure kids have great places to play—all with the ultimate goal of making play the easy choice for all kids, no matter where they live. In addition to the playground down the street, Playful City USA communities are turning grocery stores, vacant lots, crosswalks and sidewalks into opportunities for play.
“We are thrilled to recognize Garland for putting kids first,” said KaBOOM! CEO James Siegal. “The well-being of our communities starts with the well-being of our kids, and play is critical for them to thrive. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all kids get the childhood they deserve filled with play.”