Fort Wayne, Ind.Fort Wayne is being recognized for its efforts in making play a priority for the health and well-being of area children. Nationwide,Fort Wayne is one of 213 cities named a 2012 Playful City USA Community by the non-profit organization, KaBOOM!

Dedication to increasing play opportunities for children helped distinguish Fort Wayneas it earned this distinction for the third year.

“Our great parks and playgrounds provide opportunities for families and children to play right in their own neighborhoods,” Mayor Tom Henry said.  “It’s an honor for our city to be named a Playful CityUSAfor the third consecutive year. We continue to go to great lengths to ensure that our residents have access to parks, playgrounds, trails and other recreation areas that enhance our community’s health and quality of life.”

According to theAmericanAcademyof Pediatrics, play is important to healthy brain development and allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.

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.

“Fort Wayne’s Play Task Force, made up of Parks & Recreation staff and our partners from Turnstone, the League for the Blind and Disabled, the YMCA and Easter Seals Arc, have been engaged in this project for the last three years,” said Director Al Moll. “They’ve focused on inclusiveness, safety and education about why play is important, and have made great strides with their mission.”

Topping the list of Fort Wayne’s accomplishments was the completion of Indiana’s first fully-accessible playground in KreagerPark. Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground is a place for all children to play together and was opened to the public in 2011. Children were trained to be experts on the play equipment in order to instruct others during the grand opening. A subcommittee of therapists (physical, occupational, recreational) reviewed the Boundless Playground equipment and created a therapeutic tool for therapists and organizations that serve children with disabilities, as well as caregivers. These guides will be available to download at the Fort WayneParksand Recreation website  

Started in the fall of 2011, the adopt-a-playground program continues to expand. Businesses, civic organizations and volunteer groups are encouraged to adopt a playground. The commitment is for three cleanups per year for two years.

Playground safety is another critical component to PlayfulCityefforts. A safety guide for parents from the National Recreation & Park Association (NRPA) called the “Dirty Dozen” is also available as well as a new Playground Safety video created by Re'Nay Myatt. Re'Nay is a Senior at Wayne High School and an Anthis Career Center student in TV Production. Both the safety guide and the safety video are available at  (Parks/Playful CityUSA tab).

KaBOOM! Play Days are held each summer at various locations, and this year they began April 22nd with the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day at Parkview Field. Upcoming Play Days include:

·         May 11,3-7pmandMay 12, 10am-3pm atShoaffPark

·         July 6,5-9pmatFosterPark

·         August 3,3-5pmat Memorial Park

“Some of the most innovative concepts and cost-effective programs are being developed in Playful CityUSAcommunities,” says Darell Hammond, Founder and CEOof KaBOOM! and author of The New York Times Best Seller KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play. “Cities likeFort Wayne 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.”

For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful CityUSAprogram, including Let’s Play grants and applications for 2012, visit .

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