Playworks for every kid.

Play Belongs in Your City

Guest blogger MJ Kurs-Lasky shares three ways to make your city more playful this summer!
July 25, 2012

KaBOOM! recently announced its 2012 Playful City USA communities. The 213 honorees have made a commitment to play and keeping kids healthy. Eight of the Playful City USA communities are also Playworks cities!

Baltimore, Maryland
Durham, North Carolina
Houston, Texas
New Orleans, Louisiana
Northglenn, Colorado
Phoenix, Arizona
San Francisco, California
Redwood City, California

Congratulations to all of the cities for making play a priority! From building new playgrounds to engaging citizens in advocacy efforts, these cities know how to play. Here are three best practices from Playful City USA communities and actions you can take to make your city more playful!

In Brisbane, California, the Mothers of Brisbane (MOB) community group has been crisscrossing the Bay Area to inventory and audit all playspaces and provide suggestions to the city. By visiting local parks and playgrounds and assessing them, the MOB is able to improve play opportunities. Action 1: Map playgrounds in your neighborhood on the Map of Play. To maximize fun, turn the mapping event into a scavenger hunt, with each team responsible for mapping a certain section of the neighborhood.

TakomaPlays! in Takoma Park, Maryland, hosts events at playgrounds across the city. These events include local music, arts and crafts, and unstructured supervised play opportunities, each bringing together neighbors together to meet one another, socialize, and of course, play! Action 2: Form a traveling playgroup. This is a great way to explore your local playgrounds and promote play outside of your immediate community.

Ankeny, Iowa, annually hosts an All-City Play Day to engage the entire community in a day of fun, playful activities. Inviting citizens to a Play Day provides the City of Ankeny with an opportunity to highlight the benefits of play and its year-round programming. Action 3: Host a Play Day with families in your town. Bring the community together at your local park or school and organize a day of games and advocate for the cause of play at the same time.

Take one of these ideas as a jumping point to make your city more playful. Share with your friends and local leaders to start a conversation about improving the state of play in your community! Use #playbelongs on Twitter to connect with others.


MJ Kurs-Lasky is the Playful City USA Manager at KaBOOM!, a non-profit dedicated to saving play. In this role he engages community members and city leaders to recognize their communities for making play a priority and using programs to get children active, playing, and healthy. Originally from Pittsburgh, MJ loved playing kickball and four square during recess and going to Blue Slide Park on the weekends.

Playful City USA, sponsored by the Humana Foundation, is a national program advocating for local policies that increase play opportunities for children and is a key platform in combating the Play Deficit. KaBOOM!, the national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play, created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the Play Deficit, and it is through mayors, city council members, parks and recreation departments, school districts and community leaders that the program succeeds in benefiting children.