North Port honored as 2017 Playful City USA community for eighth consecutive year
The City of North Port has been named a 2017 Playful City USA for the eighth consecutive year.
The City is among 258 communities nationwide and one of 36 communities in the State of Florida to receive this designation. Playful City USA, a program by KaBOOM!, honors cities and towns for putting the needs of families first so kids can learn, grow and develop important life skills. According to KaBOOM!, these communities are transforming ordinary places into playful spaces and using play as a solution to the challenges facing their residents.
“We are thrilled to recognize the City of North Port for putting kids first,” said KaBOOM! CEO James Siegal. “The well-being of our communities starts with the well-being of our kids, and play is critical for them to thrive. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all kids get the childhood they deserve filled with play.”
The City of North Port is steadily looking for ways to increase access to play for all ages. In the last year, the City has enhanced existing parks and open spaces with the intention of creating public spaces that contribute to people’s health, happiness, and well-being. Five swing benches were installed in various locations throughout the city; a fifth canoe and kayak launch was installed behind City Hall; 40 fruit trees were planted at the Garden of Five Senses to create an urban edible forest; and sidewalks were enhanced at McKibben Park to further connect the surrounding neighborhood. More enhancements are coming in the future, including a lighted walking path at Pine Park and the completion of four multi-purpose fields at Butler Park. The City Commission also is discussing building a community pool and a boundless playground.
“The City Commission consistently supports our efforts to enhance our parks system and the City has a park network that is designed for everyone of all ages and interests to enjoy,” said General Services Interim Director Sandy Pfundheller. “We truly believe in the concept of play and encouraging our residents to get outside, explore, and have fun together.”
The City of North Port also looks for creative ways to encourage people to participate in their park system. This month, the City has kicked off a campaign for grandparents looking for things to do with their grandchildren in North Port over the summer months. In June, the Parks and Recreation Division will be hosting a community rock painting activity to encourage people to participate in the national trend to share painted rocks in their parks. In July, the City is working on a geocaching activity to introduce people to their parks and open spaces as part of Parks and Recreation Month.
“We are always looking for ways to introduce people to the City’s parks,” Pfundheller said. “We offer a robust parks and recreation system with 26 parks and facilities and more than 40 recreational programs and activities.”
To see the full list of Playful City USA communities and to learn more about making play the easy choice for kids, visit kaboom.org/playfulcityusa. You can also take part in the conversation with leaders across the country using #PLAYceforkids on Twitter and Facebook.
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