Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ottawa recognized for playful attitude

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 5/28/2014

Ottawa has been recognized once again as a great place to play.

The community has been designated a 2014 Playful City USA for a fifth time, according to a city news release Tuesday. KaBOOM!, in partnership with the Humana Foundation, announced 212 U.S. cities have achieved 2014 Playful City USA status.

Ottawa has been recognized once again as a great place to play.

The community has been designated a 2014 Playful City USA for a fifth time, according to a city news release Tuesday. KaBOOM!, in partnership with the Humana Foundation, announced 212 U.S. cities have achieved 2014 Playful City USA status.

Ottawa has hosted five Play Days in those five years, the release said, including one May 17. In addition, the city’s Play Task Force and the city’s Parks Department have joined forces with community volunteers and donors to install new playgrounds at Kanza Park, 200 W. 15th St., and most recently at Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St.

“I have been thrilled at the progress our city has made in making Ottawa a fun place to play, along with building our inclusiveness and improved safety,” Linda Reed, Ottawa mayor, said. “I am looking forward to more work on neighborhood parks in partnership with the Play Task Force.”

Ottawa city commissioners voted last week to purchase a vacant lot for $1 from Franklin County which could be turned into a neighborhood park at 822 E. Walton St. on the city’s east side. The commission also voted to purchase 20 of 23 lots in Lakeside Estates, on Easy Street between 15th and 17th streets, which could be turned into a park in the future and would become the community’s first park with a water feature.

The KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, sponsored by the Humana Foundation, honors cities, towns and communities across the U.S. that are taking steps to ensure all children — especially the 16 million American youths living in poverty — have access to play areas in their communities, the release said. Cities being recognized span every region of the country, and include Washington, D.C., Chicago, Nashville, San Francisco, New York City and 207 others.

Other Kansas communities joining five-time designee Ottawa on the Playful City USA list this year are Bel Aire (twice), Derby (four times), Ellsworth (twice), Lawrence (first year) and Parsons, (four times).

States with the most cities earning the designation were Florida (26), California (24), Texas (16), North Carolina (13), and Arizona (12).

Chicago received special recognition for “increasing city playability for all kids,” the release said. Chicago’s goal is for every child living in the city to be within a seven-minute walk of a new park or playground.

San Antonio was recognized for “encouraging play everywhere” by turning elementary and middle school properties into play spaces outside school hours, reinforcing that kids want and need play everywhere, the release said.

To see the full list of 212 communities named 2014 Playful City USA honorees, or for more information on the Playful City USA program, visit www.playfulcityusa.org

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