The Million Dollar Question: How Can We Turn Everyday Spaces Into PLAYces?

The Million Dollar Question: How Can We Turn Everyday Spaces Into PLAYces?

by Priya Madrecki, Senior Manager, Strategic Communications, KaBOOM! //

Oftentimes the most poignant childhood memories are the simplest ones: playing in the backyard with a sibling, learning baseball with a parent, or going to the playground after school. And, frequently, those memories involve play. Play is a critical component to healthy development, and to simply being a kid. It sets the stage for helping kids to achieve their highest potential, and provides those essential, formative moments with friends and adults. It cultivates social skills, greater self-confidence, risk-taking opportunities and the chance to live a healthier lifestyle. Today’s kids deserve each and every one of those benefits linked to play. But for many kids, particularly those living in poverty, having time and access to daily play is a challenge. So how do we provide more opportunities for play by turning everyday spaces into PLAYces?

Play can take place at bus stops, on sidewalks, at laundromats, or in grocery stores – in everyday spaces where kids and families interact daily, but are unexpected spaces for play. This allows moments of potential frustration or boredom to become moments of joy and creativity. How can we ensure that our streets and cities are designed not just with adults in mind, but also the kids who use them daily?

It’s time that our city infrastructure tells kids they are valued – that they are a part of our communities and that we care about their happiness, health and development. There is no better way to do so than by integrating play into our urban landscapes.

We believe this happens by transforming our infrastructure to be playful opportunities that engage kids by being wondrous, challenging, convenient, invited, shared and unifying. Whether it’s on a sidewalk, laundromat, at a bus stop, or in a grocery store, moments of potential frustration can become moments of play, joy, and wonder.

In an effort to encourage cities and communities to incorporate play into everyday spaces, KaBOOM! created the $1 million Play Everywhere Challenge, and selected 50 winners among over 1,000 applicants with the best ideas to integrate play into kids’ daily lives.

The installations will challenge communities to think outside the box about what can be considered a playful moment – or, at least, how play can be incorporated into unexpected ones!

An image from the iPlay MIAMI Streets installation, which turned a dead-end street into a play space for kids. ©KaBOOM!

As cities look for ways to attract families and to retain top talent, these kinds of innovative approaches are imperative. Kids and families do not often receive top billing amid all the other demands faced by local government, but without them, what would our cities look like? And what would our cities look like if we started to design for these members of our communities? Now is the time to ensure our kids have the brightest futures possible.

As our projects continue their installations throughout Spring 2017, please go to for regular updates, photos, and inspiration about how you can transform your own community!

About the Author

KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America. Their Vision: All kids get the childhood they deserve filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive.

About the Author

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