With only 1-in-5 children in the U.S. currently living within walking distance of a park or playground, 151 cities and towns, including Oro Valley, earned recognition from national nonprofit KaBOOM! as 2011 Playful City USA communities for their efforts to increase play opportunities for children.
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.
Oro Valley was selected for its Nature Camp, which provides play opportunities for children during fall and spring breaks from school. The program has affected more than 200 kids and exposes them to nature hikes and educational activities.
Hailing from 38 states and one territory, the 151 Playful City USA honorees range in size from five-time honorees such as Atlanta and San Francisco to first-time recipient Gypsum, Colo. (population: 4,000).
These Playful City USA communities are making a commitment to play and physical activity by developing unique local action plans to increase the quantity and quality of play in their community.
Each of the 2011 Playful City USA communities demonstrated creative commitments to addressing the Play Deficit. Today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generations in part because only 20-percent live within walking distance of a park or playground.
The 151 Playful City USA communities are now eligible for grants via Let’s Play – a community partnership led by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group to get kids active nationwide.
For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including Let’s Play grants and applications for 2012, visit www.kaboom.org/playfulcityusa.