Fort Wayne is being honored with a 2016 Playful City USA designation for the seventh time for its efforts to make it easy for all kids to get the balanced and active play they need to thrive. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the national recognition program honors cities and towns across the country for making their cities more playable.
The Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department is always searching for new ways to provide positive opportunities for leisure time. A recent initiative was the introduction of FootGolf at McMillen Park Golf Course. This family-friendly combination of golf and soccer was also featured during Lunch-On-the-Square events in the summer of 2015 with the use of a portable FootGolf box, similar to a Cornhole box. And in 2016, the Department purchased two Ga Ga Pits, which are used for a one-ball version of dodge ball played in an octagonal pit. The children in McMillen Park Community Center’s afterschool program enjoyed one of the Ga Ga pits this spring. This summer, the Department is introducing Ga Ga Pits at Lunch-On-the-Square as well as the Lifetime Sports Academy.
“Our Parks & Recreation Department is one important reason why we’re experiencing positive momentum and investments in Fort Wayne,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “Fort Wayne is moving in the right direction by encouraging healthy and active lifestyles. Being a Playful City USA demonstrates our community’s commitment to being a leader in providing world-class amenities for the public 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.
“We are thrilled to recognize these communities that have invested their time and efforts to put kids first,” said KaBOOM! CEO James Siegal. “Balanced and active play is crucial to the well-being of kids and the communities that they thrive in. By integrating play into cities, the leaders of Playful Cities USA are working to attract and retain the thousands of families that want homes in close proximity to safe places to play.”
Fort Wayne’s Playful City USA designation has created interest in keeping our playgrounds more accessible and safe, and as a result, several new groups have volunteered to be a part of the Adopt-a-Playground program this year. The Southside Optimist Club, the Fort Wayne Central Lions Club, Faegre Baker Daniels, the North Side High School Functional Work Skills Program and Harvester Community Association have all adopted playgrounds for three years. Currently, a total of twenty playgrounds have been adopted. We’ve also had groups contact us for a one-day park clean-up, which we can certainly accommodate and greatly appreciate. With 86 parks needing TLC, we can find a project for any size group for a short or a long period of time. Anyone interested in adopting a playground or scheduling a one-day park clean-up may contact Natalie Eggeman at 260-427-6028 or natalie.eggeman.
“Along with the Adopt-a-Playground program, we held the inaugural Great Park Pick-Up event in April. Close to 200 volunteers participated by spreading mulch, picking up debris in our parks and painting pavilions,” said Parks & Recreation Director Al Moll. “Getting volunteers, families and corporations involved helps make our playgrounds safer while also providing an opportunity for grown-ups to have fun too!”
For more information on Fort Wayne’s Adopt-a-Playground program, visit www.fortwayneparks.org.
To learn more about these cities, see the full list of the 257 communities named 2016 Playful City USA honorees, or to gather more information on the Playful City USA program, visit www.playfulcityusa.org. We also encourage you to take part in the conversation on #playability with these thought leaders on Twitter and Facebook.