FORT MYERS, FL (May 17, 2017) – For the sixth consecutive year, the City of Fort Myers has earned designation as a Playful City USA. National non-profit KaBOOM honors cities and towns across the country for putting the needs of kids and families first so kids can learn, grow and develop important life skills. These communities are transforming ordinary places into playful spaces and using play as a solution to the challenges facing their residents.
The 2017 Playful City USA recognition includes 258 communities from Richmond, Virginia to Richmond, California that make it as easy as possible for kids to play. In total, these communities feature more than 14,000 safe and engaging play spaces that serve more than four million kids. The State of Florida boasts the most Playful City USA communities; however Fort Myers is the only recipient in the Southwest Florida region.
Fort Myers’ kids initiatives include the S.T.A.R.S. (Success Through Academic and Recreational Support) program, S.T.A.R.S. recreational summer camp, and the recreation’s department’s Junior NBA program, presented in collaboration with the Police Athletic League. The City also installed a new playground at Jefferson Park in 2016.
This weekend’s Kids to Parks Day is another example of the city’s commitment to children. The May 20th event, held at Centennial Park, will welcome an estimated 2,500 kids and families to participate in outdoor games and activities, arts and crafts, and contests from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.
As cities are becoming hotbeds for innovation, communities across the country are creating inventive ways to attract and retain residents. Playful City USA honorees are taking bold action to ensure kids have great places to play – all with the ultimate goal of making play the easy choice for all kids, no matter where they live. In addition to the playground down the street, Playful City USA communities are turning grocery stores, vacant lots, crosswalks and sidewalks into opportunities for play.
“We are thrilled to recognize Fort Myers for putting kids first,” said KaBOOM! CEO James Siegal. “The well-being of our communities starts with the well-being of our kids, and play is critical for them to thrive. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all kids get the childhood they deserve filled with play.”
To see the full list of Playful City USA communities and to learn more about making play the easy choice for kids, visit kaboom.org/playfulcityusa. You can also take part in the conversation with leaders across the country using #PLAYceforkids on Twitter and Facebook.