For the second year in a row, the city of Henderson is listed as a Playful City USA Community! Henderson is currently the only city representing the state of Nevada, but hopefully we'll get more on board. Sponsored by the Humana Foundation, Playful City USA recognizes cities and towns across the nation that are really good at promoting healthy play by building playgrounds and introducing innovative programs that encourage children to engage in physical activity. It is an application-based program that offers a lot of benefits to cities that qualify. Those recognized are awarded access to Let’s Play grants worth millions, and are highlighted in national publications. Add to that the fun street signs and marketing kits, as well as expert trainings for community leaders – and being a Playful City USA community is not just an honor, it’s a huge benefit to the children all around the area.
The organization, KABOOM!, believes that too many children are denied the opportunity to experience full use of their imagination combined with all the benefits of physical activity, including creative adventures.
According to recent research, children who are allowed to play actually do better in school and tend to be healthier both mentally and physically well into adulthood. The social skills learned on the playground will help when they grow up and get ready to enter the workforce.
Sadly, according to their website, only 41% of parents polled say that their children have access to a playground in their community. Nation-wide, recess time is being restricted, while the amount of schoolwork children are bringing home is increasing. They even report that newer schools are not building playgrounds at all! Lack of play time is directly linked to issues such as ADHD, childhood obesity, and social and behavioral problems.
KABOOM! uses the term “Play Desert” to describe an area with a lot of children but no place for outside play within walking distance of their homes. Other factors such as age/quality of available play spaces and crime rates are also considered.
The non-profit organization endeavors to change this downward spiral through awareness and their “How to Save Play at Your School” program. Visit their website to join in the pledge.
Congratulations Henderson, NV for making the program again. We may live in the desert, but we are no “play desert!” Let’s continue to be a playful community for the good of our future generations.