Fort Wayne is being recognized for its efforts to make it easy for children to get balanced and active play in their daily lives, a priority for their health and well-being. Fort Wayne is the largest city in Indiana to achieve the “Playful City USA” designation with only four Hoosier cities qualifying. Nationwide, 212 cities were named a 2014 Playful City USA Community by the non-profit organization, KaBOOM!

“We continue to see unprecedented positive momentum in our City,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “Having an excellent quality of life in our community is a direct result of the world-class parks system that we enjoy in Fort Wayne. We’re honored to be named a Playful City USA as we lead the way in providing exercise and recreational opportunities for children and families.”

Today’s generation of children play less than any previous generation despite the vast benefits of play. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being of children.

KaBOOM!, the national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play, created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the Play Deficit by ensuring their children have the time and space they need to play.

“This year we’ve focused on creating our first indoor accessible playground at the McMillen Park Community Center,” said Director Al Moll. “The working group continues to grow as it makes great strides with its mission, and includes Parks & Recreation staff, Turnstone, the YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, McMillen Center for Health Education, FWCS, the Fort Wayne Volunteer Center and community play advocates. We appreciate the input from all of our partners!”

KaBOOM! Play Days are held each summer at various locations and welcome families to come out for food, fun and games. This year they are:

n  June 7, 11am – 4 pm, McMillen Park Community Center

n  July 9, 5 – 7 pm, Hamilton Park

n  August 1, 3 - 5 pm, Memorial Park

Over the years, Fort Wayne’s playful accomplishments include Indiana’s first fully-accessible playground at Kreager Park. Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground is a place for all children to play together. A therapeutic tool is also available because of the efforts of the Task Force. Therapists put together a therapy guide to help families and caregivers make use of this facility.

Through the Adopt-a-Playground program, adults help make play more accessible and safe by caring for playgrounds throughout the city. Since 2011, the adopt-a-playground program continues to expand as businesses, civic organizations and volunteer groups participate. The commitment is for three cleanups per year for three years. Adopt a Playground has grown significantly with schools, churches, scout groups, civic organizations and individuals coming together to enjoy the fresh air while cleaning up their assigned playgrounds.

For more information on Fort Wayne’s Playful City USA, Adopt-a-Playground, Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground and the McMillen Park Community Center, visit http://www.fortwayneparks.org/  .

For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including Let’s Play grants and applications for 2014, visit http://www.kaboom.org/playfulcityusa  .

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