KaBOOM! names Auburn a 'Playful City USA' community

Auburn offers an innovative, 32,000-square-foot Discovery Playground at Les Gove Park. - Courtesy photo/City of Auburn
Auburn offers an innovative, 32,000-square-foot Discovery Playground at Les Gove Park.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/City of Auburn

Auburn earned recognition from KaBOOM! – a national nonprofit organization dedicated to saving play – as a 2012 Playful City USA community for its efforts to increase recreational and physical activity opportunities for children.

Auburn is a four-time recipient of the honor.

Kenmore, Mercer Island and Parkland also were chosen Playful Cities.

Hailing from 41 states, the 213 Playful City USA honorees range in size from six-time honorees such as Orlando and Phoenix to first-time recipient Independence, Ore. (population: 9,607).

According to program officials, Playful City USA communities are making a commitment to play and physical activity by developing unique local action plans to increase the quantity and quality of play in their community.

Presented by The Humana Foundation, Playful City USA is a national program advocating for local policies that increase play opportunities for children and is a key platform in combating the play deficit.

"Some of the most innovative concepts and cost-effective programs are being developed in Playful City USA communities," says Darell Hammond, founder and CEO of KaBOOM! "Cities like Auburn, Kenmore, Mercer Island and Parkland are key allies in the fight to combat the play deficit and serve as outstanding role models for government and community leaders across the country."

Auburn is on the map nationally for its play opportunities. Last year KaBOOM! and the USA Weekend magazine selected Auburn to share the "playful city distinction" with some big cities: Columbus, Ohio, Hartford, Conn., San Francisco, Calif. and Orlando, Fla. Auburn was featured in the magazine for its efforts.

Auburn features 90 public play spaces and numerous parks, among them the Les Gove Community Campus and the 32,000-square-foot Discovery Playground. The playground opened in June 2010, much to the delight of thousands of children. It features accessible surfacing, play opportunities that support all levels of development, elevated sand tables, water and auditory elements, cozy spots to gather, areas to swing, spin, balance, roll and play. Tactile surfaces and a sensory garden include an integrated system of spaces devoted to the five senses.

The city also offers a water park, a climbing wall, bocce courts and a disc golf course. Game Farm Park hosts the annual Petpalooza, a yearly pet festival, which more than 14,000 people and their critters make a point of attending every year.

For the fifth consecutive year, Florida paced the nation with 29 Playful City USA communities. California earned second-place with 24 communities, while Texas finished third with 14 Playful City USA communities.

The 213 Playful City USA communities are now eligible for $15,000, $20,000 and $30,000 grants via Let's Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, to get kids and families active nationwide. Grant recipients will be announced on June 4, 2012.

For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including Let's Play grants and applications for 2013, visit

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