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St. Petersburg Named "Playful City"

Thursday, August 19, 2010  
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ST. PETERSBURG NAMED "PLAYFUL CITY USA" FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR

St. Petersburg, Fla. (August 18, 2010) - St. Petersburg was named a 2010 Playful City USA community by the non-profit KaBOOM! organization for a third straight year and was one of only 118 communities across the country to earn the designation. St. Petersburg was again recognized by KaBOOM! for creating and implementing programs to positively impact childhood wellness, public safety and quality of life, and increasing the number of its playgrounds.

In the fourth year of the annual program, 33 of 118 Playful City USA communities were repeat honorees from 2009, 30 were honored for the third consecutive year and 19 communities received Playful City USA status for the fourth straight year.

One of St. Petersburg's core programs, "Play 'N' Close to Home," is a public/private partnership to build playgrounds within a half-mile of every child. To date, this partnership with schools and houses of worship has increased the number of play spaces by 20 percent because the playgrounds are open to the general public. Since 2001, the city has created 33 additional playgrounds. Two more sites are currently being considered.

Other initiatives include "Mayor's, Mentors, and More", a mentoring program that includes developing public-private partnerships with the city's schools; and "St. Pete Values," a program that emphasizes and reinforces core values for all participants in the city's youth and recreation programs.

KaBOOM!'s goal is to make children happier and healthier by inspiring communities to build great places to play in conjunction with its vision of providing a great place to play within walking distance of every child. Playful City USA communities create best practices, like the ones above, to reach a similar goal. They serve as role models for other communities and prove that enhancing children's well-being by increasing the opportunity for play is an attainable goal for every community.

"An extreme misconception exists in our country that play among children is a luxury when, in fact, it's an absolute necessity," said Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! CEO and Co-founder. "For decades, this notion dominated our actions and we continue to see the damaging results: a monumental lack of playspaces for children and sky-rocketing childhood obesity rates. St. Petersburg refused to adhere to the status quo and realized all children deserve a municipal commitment to the cause of play. These 118 Playful City USA communities serve as beacons for the rest of our nation that an investment in children is an investment in our future."

Mayor Bill Foster and the city's leadership continue to believe in making St. Petersburg a great place to be for young people. The city is dedicated to preserving its parks and public parkland, including a spectacular downtown waterfront, currently being recognized for the 100 year old vision of the town's forefathers; dog parks; skateboard parks; pools and water playgrounds; tennis; golf courses; disc golf; and even a Jai Alai court!

In addition to being named a 2010 Playful City, St. Petersburg has also enjoyed the distinction of being named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People three times recently by America's Promise Alliance.

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