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

Feature Story

January 2020

Philadelphia Kids to Get More Play Options

By Joe Bush

KaBOOM! and the William Penn Foundation opened applications for city groups to vie for an available $1 million to design and build interactive and playful learning installations in locations across Philadelphia. The winning projects will be finished by July 2021.

The competition aims to support child development and literacy skills, goals for both organizations. The William Penn Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region with efforts to promote educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, and encourage creativity to enhance civic life.

KaBOOM! is the national nonprofit that strives to make sure all kids, especially those living in poverty, have the best and safest places to play. It has collaborated with partners to build or improve more than 17,000 play spaces, using more than 1.5 million volunteers to serve nearly 10 million kids.

This latest team effort is named Play Everywhere Philadelphia. KaBOOM! says studies show that children spend 80% of their time outside of school, but many cities lack opportunities for play and informal learning outside of the classroom.

Applicants can get technical guidance from two organizations: Playful Learning Landscapes, which will help candidates mix playful learning approaches into their project designs, and Community Design Collaborative, which will give applicants technical design help.

The projects chosen for Play Everywhere Philly will try to boost the city's play spaces by designing and making playful learning installations at places like sidewalks, bus stops, parks, footpaths and areas outside businesses where children from babies to 8 years old can play and learn together with their caregivers.

"For young children, every moment can be a learning moment," said Elliot Weinbaum, Great Learning Program director at the William Penn Foundation. "By creating public spaces that are specifically designed to stimulate early learning, we set children up for success. Children are the future of our neighborhoods and our city. Our community infrastructure and amenities should reflect that."

"Playful learning" is an evidence-based approach used by Playful Learning Landscapes that combines free play—in spaces designed for children to discover and explore—and guided play, which encourages children to lead the way through environments that have been specially designed to fuel interactions that support learning and skill development.

All groups are welcome to apply, including government entities, neighborhood organizations, community groups, nonprofit organizations, local business groups and faith organizations. The project must be located within the Philadelphia city limits to be considered. Interested groups can learn more and apply at

"Play is far more than nice-to-have experience—it's essential to help kids grow and develop critical early learning skills," said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. "But the unacceptable reality is that for too many kids, especially in communities that have experienced disinvestment, access to play is harder to come by. We are thrilled to partner with communities in Philadelphia to bring more opportunities for play and learning to everyday spaces across the city so that every kid can get the benefits of play."

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