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Posted on: May 22, 2017

New Kent County honored as 2017 Playful City USA Community

National non-profit KaBOOM! is honoring New Kent County with a 2017 Playful City USA designation for the first time. Playful City USA honors cities and towns across the country for putting the needs of families first so kids can learn, grow and develop important life skills. These communities are transforming ordinary places into playful spaces and using play as a solution to the challenges facing their residents.

The 2017 Playful City USA recognition includes 258 communities from Richmond, Virginia to Richmond, California that make it as easy as possible for kids to play. In total, these communities feature more than 14,000 safe and engaging playspaces that serve more than 4 million kids.

New Kent was also one of nine jurisdictions in the Richmond, Virginia area that makes up the first “Playful Region” - localities that work together to create play opportunities for all of their neighbors.

New Kent County is committed to providing play opportunities to enhance the quality of life for its residents.  In a growing, but rural community, New Kent faces unique play challenges.  To support balanced and active play opportunities in New Kent, the Parks and Recreation Department is creating programs and amenities that will help eliminate these barriers to play.  Initiatives include an adopted Master Plan for Pine Fork Park, plans for a teen lounge adjacent to the recreation gymnasium, mobile neighborhood programs, partnerships with community and youth organizations, and more.  The Department has also pledged to incorporate a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity/active play within the Before and After School Recreational Program. The Department will also continue its initiative, collaborating with local businesses, to provide scholarships to offset fees for sports programs. New Kent County continues to explore initiatives that encourage playability and to educate the community on the importance of incorporating play into everyday life.

“We are honored to receive this national recognition for our efforts to promote an environment where families and children come first,” said New Kent County Administrator, Rodney Hathaway.  “I applaud our Parks and Recreation Department for its creative approaches to promoting play in the County.  I am also very appreciative of the many businesses, faith-based, and non-profit organizations that partner with the County to give our children opportunities to play, learn, and build necessary social skills,” he said.    

As cities are becoming hotbeds for innovation, communities across the country are creating inventive ways to attract and retain residents. Playful City USA honorees are taking bold action to ensure kids have great places to play – all with the ultimate goal of making play the easy choice for all kids, no matter where they live. In addition to the playground down the street, Playful City USA communities are turning grocery stores, vacant lots, crosswalks and sidewalks into opportunities for play.

“We are thrilled to recognize New Kent County 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.”

To see the full list of Playful City USA communities and to learn more about making play the easy choice for kids, visit You can also take part in the conversation with leaders across the country using #PLAYceforkids on Twitter and Facebook.

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Posted on: April 18, 2011