Savannah named 2010 Playful City USA

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The City of Savannah has been named a 2010 Playful City USA by KaBOOM!. KaBOOM! is a non-profit organization that dedicated iteself to creating great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities. Playful City USA is a national recognition program that honors cities and towns which provide time and space to play to their young residents.

Savannah was chosen for its dedication to play, commitment to children and its work engaging residents in the planning and design of playspaces and playground equipment.

Savannah is one of the 118 commuities across 36 states to be recognized as a Playful City community.

Last October, KaBOOM! along with the City of Savannah, the Home Depot and hundreds of vounteers built a state-of-the-art playground in one day at the West Broad Street YMCA.

Being a named a 2010 Playful City USA gives Savannah priority status to receive additional KaBOOM! playground grants and builds, which have totaled $3.7 million nationwide since 2007. Savannah will receive addtional incentive which include a national media campaign promoting Savannah's recreational opportunties.

In 2009, 16,725 children participated in events organized by the City of Savannah's Recreation Services Department.

"We are very excited to be recognized by KaBOOM! for our commitment to addressing the real threat of childhood obesity by offering opportunities for children to be active," City of Savannah Leisure Services Director Joe Shearouse said in a news release. "We are proud to be selected as a 2010 Playful City USA community."

Nationwide, funding for parks and recreation programs is at its lowest in decades. Playful City USA is coming up with innovative ideas and cost-effective programs to help increase play and physical activity, proving parks and play is more important than ever.

"An extreme misconception exists in our country that play among children is a luxury when, in fact, it's an absolute necessity," said KaBOOM! CEO and Co-founder Darell Hammond in a news release . "For decades, this notion dominated our actions and we continue to see the damaging results: a monumental lack of playspaces for children and sky-rocketing childhood obesity rates. Savannah refused to adhere to the status quo and realized all children deserve a municipal commitment to the cause of play. These 118 Playful City USA communities serve as beacons for the rest of our nation that an investment in children is an investment in our future."

KaBOOM!'s mission to have a playground within walking distance for every child in America.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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