Wouldn’t it be great to have one of these in Decatur?
The City of Decatur was selected as a finalist in the Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million national competition that will award outside-the-box ideas to make play easy, available, and fun for kids and families in cities across the U.S. The Challenge is hosted by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all children, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.
The City of Decatur created an innovative plan for a Pedal to School Bike Bus and a renewal of the bus stop on Trinity Place into a play space. The project was selected as a finalist out of a pool of more than 1,000 applications nationwide. Winners will be announced in early fall, 2016.
The Challenge, developed in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Target, Playworld, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts, attracted an outpouring of creative ideas to spark kids’ imaginations and get their bodies moving. Decatur’s idea came from a passion for getting kids more involved in Safe Routes to School.
“The Pedal to School Bike Bus is currently being used in Holland and is a great way for children to travel to school while getting exercise along the way. Riding a bike brings joy and good health, and the bike bus is particularly whimsical,” said Danielle Suchdev, member of the Pedestrian Advisory Committee. “The bus will enable 11 children to bike themselves to school, departing from the Decatur Housing Authority.
“We were astonished at the number and quality of the applications we received,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. “To us, it shows a huge, untapped potential to reimagine cities with kids in mind, and boost their opportunity to get the play they need to thrive. And when kids thrive, cities thrive.”
Kids need play to grow up healthy, resilient and ready for life. Research shows play is vital to healthy brain development and is pivotal to how kids learn problem-solving, conflict resolution and creativity–in other words, the skills they need to succeed as adults. Yet today, too many kids, especially those growing up in poverty, are missing out on play because of families’ time pressures, the lure of screens, and a lack of safe places to go. Meanwhile, evidence shows missing out on the chance to play puts kids at risk for challenges ranging from obesity to anxiety to trouble adjusting in school.
“We’re thrilled at the possibility that Decatur’s kids could win this fantastic new opportunity to learn and develop from play,” said Cheryl Burnette of Decatur Active Living. “If we’re selected as a winner, we hope it will be just the beginning of a larger effort to make play a way of life for kids and families in our community and to have a way for more children to experience biking to school.”
Winners for the competition will be selected in fall 2016. To learn more about Decatur’s ideas for making play happen everywhere in the city, contact Cheryl Burnette. To learn more about the Play Everywhere Challenge, including a gallery of ideas for what Play Everywhere could look like across the U.S. please visit http://kaboom.org/playeverywhere