Mayor Tom Henry was joined Wednesday by Director Al Moll to announce Fort Wayne’s sixth Playful City USA designation during the Parks & Recreation’s neighborhood carnival at Lakeside Park.
Fort Wayne earned this national designation for its efforts to make it easy for all kids to get the balanced and active play they need to thrive. Fort Wayne is the largest city in Indiana to achieve the “Playful City USA” designation, with only five Hoosier cities qualifying. Nationwide, 241 cities were named a 2015 Playful City USA Community by the non-profit organization, KaBOOM!
Today’s generation of children play less than any previous generation despite the vast benefits of play. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being of children.
“I continue to be encouraged by the positive momentum and investments we’re experiencing in the City of Fort Wayne,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “Receiving national recognition for our world-class park system is a tremendous honor as we work together to make a meaningful difference in our community. We’re committed to building an excellent quality of life and providing residents and families with unique opportunities to enjoy.”
KaBOOM!, the national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play, created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the Play Deficit by ensuring their children have the time and space they need to play. KaBOOM! Play Days are held each summer at various locations and welcome families to come out for food, fun and games.
“One way we’re celebrating play this year is that we’re inviting the whole family to come out to play at a free community party as we celebrate 110 Years of Family Fun in our park system,” said Parks & Recreation Director Al Moll. The party will be held 5:30 – 9:30 pm, Tuesday, July 28 at Headwaters Park East. There will be food and giveaways, carnival games, inflatables, horse-drawn carriage rides, face painting, visits from the FWFD and FWPD, and there will be several stage performances, including the local band, Trichotomous Hippopotamus, performing at 7:15 pm.
“To further encourage play and activity for youth, and to keep the momentum going,” said Director Moll, “we’ve installed three new playground pieces in Lions Park, we’re issuing requests for proposals this summer for new accessible playground equipment in Bass Park and we’re partnering with Purdue University and Cardinal Community Hoops Program to renovate the outdoor basketball court at Jennings Recreation Center.”
Two other projects currently in the planning stage are the splash pad at Franklin School Park and a new playground in Hamilton Park. The Franklin splash pad is currently in the design phase, with bids expected to go out in the summer and construction to begin in the fall. The water feature will be unique to our park system, with a focus on creating an artistic element along with a play element. The grand opening of the splash pad is expected to take place in the spring of 2016. Hamilton Park has two separate playground areas, one for ages 2 – 5, the other for ages 5 – 12, with aging playground equipment. We intend to remove all of the playground pieces and create one large accessible playground for children of all ages and abilities.