A GREAT PLACE TO PLAY: ALLENTOWN NAMED PLAYFUL CITY FOR FIFTH TIME

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the fifth consecutive year, The City of Allentown has been designated as a “Playful City USA,” one of 217 cities and towns across the country and one of eight in Pennsylvania to earn the distinction. Allentown is among 23 communities being honored for the fifth time.

The designation comes from KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to promoting and saving playful activities for children.

“We are pleased to be named a Playful City USA community for the fifth straight year,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “Our playground at Cedar Beach is visited by children of all ages. Not a day goes by that I don’t see it being enjoyed by dozens of children.”

According to KaBOOM!, each of the 2013 Playful City USA communities demonstrated creative commitments to addressing the lack of play among children. Playful City USA celebrates and highlights these unique initiatives developed by communities across the country. A primary goal of Playful City USA is to encourage cities and towns to share ideas, concepts and programs in an effort to increase play opportunities for children.

KaBOOM! selected Allentown for its outstanding dedication to play. In 2012, many play spaces were improved in the city through neighborhood cleanups, litter removal and equipment repair, while Franklin Park was completely rebuilt with help from 50 community volunteers, many from the Lehigh Valley Building Trades. Additionally, the Police Athletic League played a critical role in encouraging play by tutoring and engaging with students at each elementary school in the city.

“We are excited to be one of just eight Pennsylvania municipalities to receive this national honor, said Allentown Director of Parks & Recreation John Mikowychok. “It’s our goal to provide as many opportunities as possible to keep our children active. We have a tremendous park system here and people of all ages are enjoying it.”

“Kids need to play actively, every day, at home, in school and in their communities, yet play is disappearing,” said Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO of KaBOOM! and author of The New York Times Best Seller KaBOOM!: A Movement to Save Play. “Children spend nearly eight hours a day in front of a screen; almost half of all poor students are deprived of recess; and to make matters worse, only one in five children live within walking distance of a park. Playful City USA communities like Allentown are creating innovative programs and initiatives and deserve recognition because of their efforts to give kids the childhood they deserve and best prepare them for their future.”

Last year, only seven other Pennsylvania municipalities were honored with this distinction.