For the fifth consecutive year, Danville has been named among America’s most playful cities for its efforts in providing play opportunities for children.
Danville was one of four cities in Virginia and 213 communities nationwide cited by KaBoom!, a Washington-based nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing play back into children's lives.
“Some of the most innovative concepts and cost-effective programs are being developed in Playful City USA communities,” said Darell Hammond, founder and CEO of Kaboom! and author of The New York Times Best Seller “KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play.”
“Cities like Danville are key allies in the fight to combat the play deficit and serve as outstanding role models for government and community leaders across the country,” Hammond said.
The organization noted that Danville’s annual Summer Camp Fun Day promotes a variety of unrestricted, free play for all of the city's youth. Each year, the community comes together to host this play day and includes a variety activities coordinated by various partners, which has led to a desire for creating more collaborative programming.
Bill Sgrinia, director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Danville, said, “Opportunities for play and for recreation are vital to a healthy community. There is a direct connection between economic development, quality of life and opportunities for recreation and play. Recreation is an investment in a community’s future.”
The Danville Parks and Recreation Department operates the Community Market, the Crossing at the Dan and recreation centers throughout the city. It also maintains Dan Daniel Memorial Park, Ballou Park, trails such as the Riverwalk Trail, and neighborhood playgrounds and ball fields.
Of the 213 communities, Danville was one of only 24 to win the honor for a fifth time. The other cities in Virginia earning recognition were Alexandria, Hopewell and Norfolk.
Presented by The Humana Foundation, Playful City USA is a national program advocating for local policies that increase play opportunities for children and is a key platform in combating the “play deficit.”
According to Kaboom!, a play deficit exists as children today spend less time playing outside than any previous generation because, in part, only 20 percent live within walking distance of a park or playground. Children need a place to play every day in order to be active and healthy, the organization maintains.
The 213 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.