Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the City of Geneva recently learned that Geneva has been awarded a $20,000 grant via Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families active nationwide. Last month, Geneva was announced as one of only two cities in New York State to be named a “2012 Playful City USA” community by national non-profit KaBOOM! for its efforts to increase play opportunities for children. The Playful City designation made Geneva eligible to be considered for grant funding.
Geneva was recognized for its outstanding dedication to play, demonstrated in part by an upcoming project to build a Community Lakefront Playground on the shore of Seneca Lake and the fact that volunteers from the city, in collaboration with Hobart and William Smith Colleges, successfully completed a playground at West Street Elementary. In a press release announcing the Playful Cities designation, it was noted, “Geneva looks at its goals on a community-wide level and hopes to strengthen connections through the cause of play.”
On Friday, June 8, the City of Geneva, Geneva Community Projects and the Colleges will take an important step toward making the community’s playground vision a reality when they sign a Memorandum of Understanding, essentially guaranteeing in good faith that they will all work together toward completion of the Community Lakefront Playground. The signing will be held at the site of the future playground (rain location will be City Hall).
“Geneva and the Finger Lakes have long recognized recreation and the power of play as key components in our economic development strategy,” said City Manager Matt Horn. “This designation is affirmation that Geneva is an imaginative and creative community, and that we have invested wisely in our recreation infrastructure and programs.”
“Some of the most innovative concepts and cost-effective programs are being developed in Playful City USA communities,” says Darell Hammond, founder and CEO of KaBOOM! Hammond visited Geneva last August as Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Convocation speaker. “Cities like Geneva are key allies in the fight to combat the play deficit and serve as outstanding role models for government and community leaders across the country,” he adds.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is critical to healthy brain development. It allows children to use their creativity while simultaneously developing imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive and emotional strength. Yet today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation in part because only 1-in-5 live within walking distance of a park or playground. The resulting play deficit is having profound consequences for kids physically, socially and academically.
Presented by The Humana Foundation, Playful City USA 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 benefitting children. A total of 213 communities were recognized in 2012; only Geneva and Niagara Falls were recognized in New York this year.
In the photo above, Jenny Wu ’12 paints a sign on the site of the proposed playground.