Story by Monika Staszczak, Contributing writer
(WITH GALLERY) – Murray celebrated its recognition as a “Playful City USA” for the eighth time in a row, local parents and children had the opportunity to take part in the Play Day at Central Park in Murray this Saturday.
Playful City USA is a national recognition program for cities that make play a priority in their communities. It is an effort to ensure kids have the balance of active play they need in order to grow and develop correctly.
Play Day is an event that brings together the community in games and activities. Even a bit of rain couldn’t spoil the fun. Activities like frog races and inflatables kept the kids entertained for hours, and provided them with exercise at the same time.
Playful City USA is a part of KaBOOM!, a nonprofit that advocates playability. Creators of KaBOOM! describe playability as “the extent to which a city makes it easy for all kids to get balanced and active play.” It promotes communities that work toward making playtime for kids as easy as possible, keeping in mind the busy lifestyle of today’s parents.
In today’s society, it’s not that easy for kids to just go outside and play. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, some of the reasons for that are “hurried lifestyle, changes in family structure, and increased attention to academics and enrichment activities at the expense of recess or free child-centered play.”
That is where the KaBOOM! project steps in. With programs like Playful City USA, they encourage cities all around America to provide kids with safe playing environments that are at the same time easily accessible for parents.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is essential to development because it allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive and emotional strength.
To be recognized as Playful City USA, a city has to meet a number of requirements and “demonstrate a strong commitment to the cause of play,” according to the KaBOOM! website.
Recognition as a Playful City USA for Murray is an effort of the Continuing Education Committee. This title makes the city eligible for many grants and extra opportunities. According to the KaBOOM! website, the grants include a “personalized marketing activation kit” that provides press releases and marketing materials to support national recognition and increase awareness. It also provides online training to show the community how to further improve.
Being recognized as the Playful City USA eight times in a row is a big achievement for Murray. “Play provides a competitive advantage for cities by developing healthy kids and thriving communities,” according to the KaBOOM! website. By investing in children, Murray invests in the future of its community.