Categorized | Health

Hawaii County named Playful City USA

MEDIA RELEASE

For the second consecutive year, the County of Hawaii has earned nationwide recognition as a Playful City USA community.

Playful City USA is a national recognition program honoring communities determined to prioritize play and ensure that children are healthy by providing the time and space for play.

KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to saving play, recognized 118 cities across the country as Playful City USA communities, including Hawaii County.

These Playful City USA communities are making a commitment to play and physical activity by developing unique local action plans to increase the quantity and quality of play in their community. In doing so, some of the most innovative ideas and cost-effective programs are being developed in Playful City USA communities – proving that parks and play are more important than ever.

Hawaii County was among 33 Playful City USA communities that are repeat honorees from 2009.

Each of the 2010 Playful City USA communities demonstrated creative commitments to the cause of play.

Contributing to the county’s selection was the Department of Parks and Recreation’s close work with community groups to build seven playgrounds and renovate two playgrounds, including:

  • Higashihara Park (Kamakana Playground):– A community-build project with the Department of Parks and Recreation (c. 5/2009).
  • Waikoloa Ho’oko Park (Playground): New playground equipment with perimeter fence, three pavilions, barbecue pits — A community-build project with the Department of Parks and Recreation (c. 12/2009).
  • Kamehameha Park (Playground): Complete renovation of existing playground — A community-build project with the Department of Parks and Recreation (c. 4/2010).
  • Hawaiian Beaches Park (Playground): New playground – Contracted by the Department of Parks and Recreation (c. 3/2009).
  • William Charles Lunalilo Playground: New playground – Contracted by the Department of Parks and Recreation (c. 11/2009).
  • Pahoa Neighborhood Facility Playground: New Playground — Contracted by the Department of Parks and Recreation (c. 3/2009).
  • Kamehameha Park Skatepark: New reinforced concrete skate park — A community-build project with the Department of Parks and Recreation (c. 6/2010).
  • Kailua Park Skatepark: New wood features on concrete slab skate park — A community-build project with the Department of Parks and Recreation (c. 3/2010).
  • Pahoa Neighborhood Facility Skatepark: New reinforced concrete skate park — A community-build project with the Department of Parks and Recreation(c. 3/2009).

Also, Mayor Billy Kenoi is a strong advocate for keiki and one of his goals is to open school libraries and playgrounds after school hours to provide a place for them to learn, play and be kids. Families are struggling as parents work two jobs leaving some kids left alone inside of their homes and not being able to go outside to play.

The County of Hawai`i recognizes that as its population continues to grow, there is an increase in demand for playspaces, gyms, parks, ball fields, and beaches. The local Ka Hui Pa`ani committee saw this shortfall first-hand and the county has been in talks with the state Legislature and state Department of Education to expand recreational opportunities by using local schools’ facilities.

Ka Hui Pa`ani understands the need for play where life skills are learned and where physical activity takes place in adult-supervised programs, thus helping to curb the problems of obesity and related health problems, crime and drug abuse. Over the past two years the committee is proud of the new community playgrounds and renovations happening around the island, and will continue to strive for private/ public partnerships to make Hawai`i Island a better place to live, work and play.

KaBOOM! makes children happier and healthier by inspiring communities to build great places to play in walking distance of every child. Playful City USA communities create best practices, like the ones above, to reach a similar goal. They serve as role models for other communities and prove that enhancing children’s well-being by increasing the opportunity for play is an attainable goal for every community.

“An extreme misconception exists in our country that play among children is a luxury when, in fact, it’s an absolute necessity,” said Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! CEO and Co-founder. “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.

“(The County of Hawaii) refused to adhere to the status quo and realized all children deserve a municipal commitment to the cause of play,” Hammond said. “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.”

For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including applications for 2011, visit www.kaboom.org/playfulcityusa

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