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Mayors go KaBOOM! in San Antonio.

This past week at the Congress of Cities in San Antonio, NLC delegates discussed the economy, the current health care debate and the importance of playgrounds. That's right, playgrounds. As part of NLC's commitment to promoting community well-being, NLC has continued its partnership with KaBOOM!, the national nonprofit bringing play back into the lives of children.

This year, as part of the organization's Playful City USA campaign, KaBOOM! presented its Play Matters report, which highlights 12 simple, cost effective ways public managers and other local leaders can improve their communities using play. The local initiatives chosen for inclusion in the Play Matters report run the gamut, from urban to rural and old-school to high-tech and many can be implemented in a range of income environments. Initiatives highlighted include:

* Ankeny, Iowa--Public-private collaboration helps the Parks and Recreation Department pass legislation and increase the number of play-spaces

* Baltimore--Playworks gets kids active during recess and throughout the school day

* Boston--Boston Schoolyard Initiative makes children's playgrounds more natural and inviting

* Boulder, Colo.--The Freiker Program gets kids and their parents biking instead of driving

* Cedar Rapids, Iowa--The Switch Program challenges families to switch what they do, view and chew

* Denver--Learning Landscapes invites communities to work together to design and build playgrounds

* Greenbelt, Md.; Tucson, Ariz.; and St. Petersburg, Fla.--All use innovative joint-use agreements to ensure that children have access to existing places to play

* New York City--Street closures give thousands of kids instant places to play

* San Francisco--ParkScan enables park users to easily report maintenance issues

* Seattle--High Point Housing Project ensures residents of all incomes live in a walkable community with lots of access to open green space

In addition to issuing Play Matters, KaBOOM! gave attendees a taste of what fun building playgrounds can be, by leading attendees in one of the organization's signature, all-volunteer,, done-in-a-day playground builds at San Antonio's West End Park. Huggies Brand, which partnered with KaBOOM! on three projects in 2009, generously funded this brand new playground and was delighted to welcome NLC delegates to help build this kid-designed playground. The playground is adjacent to the newly renovated Frank Garrett Community Center and soccer fields--signifying the rebirth 'of West End Park as an asset for the community.

One hundred and fifty Congress of Cities delegates and neighborhood residents worked side-by-side to mix more than seven tons of concrete and move two truckloads of mulch by hand, while also assembling and installing swings, slides and rockwall climbers.

Edna Branch Jackson, mayor pro tem, Savannah, Ga.; Myron Lowry, councilmember, Memphis, Tenn.; Sergio Rodriguez, alderman, New Haven, Conn.; David Baker, mayor, Kenmore, Wash.; Carl Brewer, mayor, Wichita, Karl.; Kevin Kramer, councilman, Louisville, Ky.; members of the New Mexico Municipal League; and youth delegates from Palm Beach County were among the Congress of Cities volunteers.


The playground was completed after six hours of work and Julian Castro, mayor, San Antonio; NLC President Kathleen Novak, mayor, Northglenn, Colo.; and Mary Alice Cisneros, councilwoman, San Antonio, cut the ceremonial ribbon to celebrate this new community plays-pace.

Ben Duda is senior manager for the KaBOOM! National Campaign for Play.
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Author:Duda, Ben
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Nov 23, 2009
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