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DC Named as a Finalist for 2014 Playful City USA Designation

Monday, May 12, 2014
City honored for its "playability"

Contact:  DPR Customer Service:  (202) 673-7647
               John Stokes (DPR):
(202) 288-7275, john.stokes@dc.gov  

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The District of Columbia was named recently as a finalist for the 2014 Playful City USA initiative, along with more than 200 cities around the country. These cities will be named as honorees in a Tweetup (Twitter Meetup) online conversation on Tuesday, May 13, from 2 pm to 3 pm. Using the hashtag #playability, and tag @kaboom, DC will discover whether it will be honored as a 2014 Playful City USA designee. If not on Twitter, users are invited to join the conversation on play on Facebook. When posting, use the hashtag, #playability and tag @kaboom

"The concept of playability, the extent to which cities make it easy for children to have a balance of active play they need to thrive, is a movement taking shape in communities across America, and I’m proud that the District is working to make our city more playable," said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. "I'm pleased that our PlayDC: Playground Improvement Initiative and our PlayDC Master Plan are receiving the recognition they so richly deserve."

Playful City USA, a KaBOOM! advocacy initiative, is an eight-year-old national recognition program, sponsored by the Humana Foundation, honoring cities and towns that champion efforts to make play a priority through policy initiatives, infrastructural investments and innovative programming. The program strives to recognize communities that demonstrate commitment to ensuring all children get the balance of active play they need to thrive. Washington, DC, will be recognized along with Chicago, Ill.; Nashville, Tenn.; Austin, Texas; Providence, R.I.; San Francisco, Calif.; New York City, N.Y. and 205 others. KaBOOM! is the national nonprofit dedicated to the goal of ensuring that all children, particularly the 16 million American children living in poverty, get the active play they need to become healthy and successful adults.

Since 2012, the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), along with the Department of General Services, has led the multi-year, citywide effort to renovate and improve 32 play spaces under the PlayDC: Playground Improvement Initiative, as part of Mayor Gray’s One City Action Plan and the Vision for a Sustainable DC, designed to strengthen the District's commitment to using world-class, innovative practices to improve how residents and visitors work, live and play. In 2013, Mayor Gray added eight more play spaces to the project.

The Play DC Master Plan is an ambitious and strategic visionary framework for advancing the District’s parks-and-recreation resources. For more than a year, DPR and the Office of Planning worked on the plan, a 15-year strategy that lays out a roadmap for the District’s parks-and-recreation system to realize its highest levels of excellence, efficiency and effectiveness. Building on the successes of the playground transformations for the last two years, the master plan is the District’s first-ever comprehensive framework for the city’s parks-and-recreation system as a whole.

The benefits of obtaining the Playful City USA designation include the opportunity to apply for grants and playground builds offered by KaBOOM! that support targeted policies, programs, and infrastructure for DC, as well as the other communities that are recognized; increased stature and competitive advantage for state and national grant opportunities; and the chance to apply to attend this year’s 2014 Playful City USA Leaders' Summit held in Chicago as leaders in the burgeoning Playability Movement.

"The momentum for building a national movement for play is rooted in the strength and commitment of our city that is leading by extraordinary example, as we elevate the importance of play, thus making Washington, DC, a more playable place for children, families, communities and neighborhoods," said DPR Acting Director Sharia Shanklin, Ed.D.

ABOUT THE DC DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
The mission of the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is to enhance the quality of life and wellness of DC residents and visitors by providing equal access to affordable and quality recreational services, by organizing programs, activities and events.

ABOUT KABOOM!
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to the bold goal of ensuring that all children, particularly the 16 million American children living in poverty, get the active play they need to become healthy and successful adults. KaBOOM! has been a powerful champion for play since its founding in 1996, working with partners to build, improve, and open more than 15,000 playgrounds, engage more than 1,000,000 volunteers and serve more than 6,600,00 children nationwide. KaBOOM! creates and promotes great places to play; inspires, empowers and leads play advocates; and elevates the societal conversation about the importance of play in children’s lives. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org/act or follow the conversation on why #PlayMatters at www.twitter.com/kaboom or www.facebook.com/kaboom

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