Mayors on Playgrounds
St. Petersburg, Florida Mayor Rick Baker was one of the mayors that nonprofit KaBOOM! recognized for creating and updating city playgrounds. Photo courtesy of KaBOOM!...
|St. Petersburg, Florida Mayor Rick Baker was one of the mayors that nonprofit KaBOOM! recognized for creating and updating city playgrounds. Photo courtesy of KaBOOM!|
Groups like the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend creating and maintaining safe, accessible playgrounds to encourage kids' physical activity and decrease the risk of childhood obesity. A new report from the nonprofit group KaBOOM!, "Play Matters," recognized 12 local initiatives that increased the quantity and quality of childrens' play areas. Of the 12, three were singled out because of the mayor's role in prioritizing playgrounds. In St. Petersburg, Florida, Mayor Rick Baker pledged to provide a public playground within half an mile of every resident in the city. Boston Mayor Tom Menino created the Boston Schoolyard Initiative to provide the capital investments needed to improve schoolyards through 2010. And in Tucson, Arizona, a playground audit completed by Mayor Robert E. Walkup's office led to a joint-use agreement between the city and the largest school district in the metro area, splitting maintenance responsibilities so that residents can use school fields year-round. Mayor Walkup was also recognized for providing funding for signage that recognizes schools that are part of the joint-use agreement, and supporting more school fields being open after hours and during the summer. The report's site, www.kaboom.org/bestpractices, provides detailed case studies of the three mentioned above, plus others, including ParkScan in San Francisco, previously featured in Idea Center. The site also provides recommendations and strategies for leaders pursuing policies to improve playground conditions.