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Danville was recently among 217 communities in the country named Playful City USA by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization dedicated to giving kids the childhood they deserve by bringing play to those who need it most.
The recognition marks Danville’s sixth time among the honorees.
“We are extremely proud of this distinction,” said Bill Sgrinia, director of Parks and Recreation. “To be among 217 cities and towns out of 43 states -- and one out of only three in Virginia -- to be recognized for our commitment to not only play but to the benefits of healthy living is a great honor.”
Founded in 2007, Playful City USA is a national program that celebrates and promotes local policies that increase play opportunities for children. According to KaBOOM!, the purpose of the program is to help local governments address the lack of play.
“Kids need to play actively, every day, at home, in school and in their communities, yet play is disappearing,” said Darell Hammond, founder and CEO of KaBOOM! and author of The New York Times Best Seller “KaBOOM!: A Movement to Save Play,” in a news release.
“Children spend nearly eight hours a day in front of a screen; almost half of all poor students are deprived of recess; and to make matters worse, only one in five children live within walking distance of a park. Playful City USA communities like Danville are creating innovative programs and initiatives and deserve recognition because of their efforts to give kids the childhood they deserve and best prepare them for their future.”
The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that “play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being of children.”
Danville was recognized for its dedication to play thanks in part to the Department of Parks and Recreation’s goal to include all organizations that provide open play spaces in its information and social media guide and for an upcoming initiative in which a specially designed play task force will study the proximity of neighborhoods with a heavy population of children to open play spaces.
The purpose of the study is to determine how accessible play is to every child in the community. The task force is made up of an array of organizations including the Parks and Recreation Department, Big Brothers Big Sisters, First Tee of Danville, Fraternal Order of Eagles, DOAR and Affiliates, Danville Science Museum, Danville Police Department, Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the Danville Public Library.
The 217 Playful City USA communities are now eligible for $15,000, $20,000 and $30,000 grants via Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, to get kids and families active nationwide. Grant recipients will be announced on June 4.