Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

April 2018

How to Encourage Play—Everywhere!

By Dave Ramont

KaBOOM!, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing all kids—particularly those living in poverty—with safe and engaging places to play, recently compiled the Play Everywhere Playbook, a comprehensive guidebook aimed at assisting cities and neighborhoods with implementing Play Everywhere projects in their communities and neighborhoods. These projects turn under-utilized and everyday spaces into fun community hubs, while encouraging community safety and social interaction.

Focusing on underserved neighborhoods, KaBOOM! has teamed up with nearly 100 cities and organizations over the past three years to transform vacant lots, sidewalks, bus stops, alleys and more into safe play spaces. The Play Everywhere Playbook takes lessons learned from these projects and compiles best practices for communities to locate, design and build kid-friendly destinations.

James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!, believes that this is a call to action for all cities to prioritize equitable infrastructure investment that meets the needs of all kids and families. "The Play Everywhere evaluation shows why; neighbors become more connected, kids learn and grow, and previously neglected spaces become safe and vibrant. The Play Everywhere Playbook is a roadmap for how to make that happen in your community, too," he said.

Gehl Institute is a nonprofit organization "promoting a new discipline within the fields of urban design, architecture, planning and city governance that will enable cities to address the most burning issues facing them today." And, coinciding with the Playbook release, Gehl has conducted an evaluation of Play Everywhere projects. Among other findings, they discovered that 90 percent of respondents felt safer from both crime and traffic due to Play Everywhere installations. Additionally, two out of three people met new neighbors at the play spaces, and 70 percent said that the projects increased the amount of play time that their kids engaged in.

Jeff Risom, partner and managing director at Gehl, feels that the KaBOOM! Playbook, building on the findings of the evaluation, provides the steps and tools that city and community leaders need to understand and then incorporate the needs of kids into city design. "Play Everywhere inspires people to reshape the public realm with kids and families in mind, inviting wonder and learning to everyday places like bus stops, sidewalks and beyond."

Some of the things covered in the Playbook include Fundamentals: principals that define what can make a space a play space. Design Guides can help communities discover which everyday spaces can offer opportunities for play. The Evaluation Report details the impact Play Everywhere projects have on communities. And the many Case Studies showcase various ways that communities have embraced Play Everywhere. For example, five Miami districts transformed dead-end streets into unique kid-friendly play spaces. In Houston, playful additions were made to the Oxford Place apartments, setting the standard for making play a priority in public housing communities. And at the public transit center in Lexington, Ky., kids and families can enjoy delightful mini-installations while they wait for their rides.

Information on the Play Everywhere Playbook can be found at

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