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National non-profit KaBOOM! is honoring Chicopee with a 2017 Playful City USA designation for the 4th time. Playful City USA honors cities and towns across the country for putting the needs of 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 playspaces that serve more than 4 million kids.
Chicopee is ensuring that all children have access to healthy food, basic sports infrastructure, and areas to play all year-round. Recent safety upgrades to water and play infrastructure were made, including Title IX and ADA compliance. A $250,000 Community Development Block Grant will help to design new paths and pavilions throughout Sarah Jane Sherman Park. Last year, ChicopeeFRESH, a local farm-to-school program, stewarded a UMass Amherst grant to create a permaculture garden at John J. Stefanik Memorial School with another grant underway to expand gardens to other schools. ChicopeeFRESH recently began leading free after school cooking classes for 4th graders, along with demonstrations once a month at the Chicopee Public Library to educate about the locally-sourced foods in the schools.
This year, the Department of Planning and Economic Development will coordinate the 3rd Downtown GetDown! as a way to celebrate the City’s residents by getting out on the street and having fun! Mayor Kos said “We are very excited to continue the Downtown Getdown! as a City tradition. More people attend each year, and it’s a wonderful way to get people together in our Downtown.” Visit https://chicopee.wixsite.com/downtowngetdown for more information on the event and check out the Parks and Recreation website at http://chicopeema.gov/333/Parks-Recreation for summer programs!
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 Chicopee 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.