Palmetto Bay awarded ‘Playful City’ designation

By Gary Alan Ruse

Parks and Recreation director Fanny Carmona Gonzalez is pictured with neighborhood children at the playground in Coral Reef Park.

Palmetto Bay on Wednesday, Aug. 18, officially became one of only 118 cities throughout the United States to be recognized as a “2010 Playful City USA” community. The designation was presented by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization dedicated to saving play based in Washington, DC.

Mayor Eugene P. Flinn Jr. was pleased with the news.

“I’ve always been a proponent of our parks systems and of getting our kids out for fresh air, sunshine and exercise,” Flinn said. “This recognition from KaBOOM! comes at a great time and is especially appreciated. We are committed to maintaining and improving our parks for our kids and for our adults as well.”

Parks and Recreation director Fanny Carmona Gonzalez also was appreciative.

“We have worked so hard to make our parks the best they can be for our residents,” Gonzalez said. “I am so happy we were chosen as a Playfuy City for 2010.”

Each of the 2010 Playful City USA communities demonstrated creative commitments to the cause of play. KaBOOM! also selected Palmetto Bay for its outstanding dedication to play. A notable aspect of its commitment to children, Palmetto Bay recently implemented the Park System Survey and Needs Assessment to survey all park properties and playspaces to identify needs and service gaps within the community.

The award project was conceived at a time when many communities face budget cuts that have left funding for parks and recreation departments nationwide at the lowest level in decades.

KaBOOM! wants to prioritize play and ensure that children are healthy by providing the time and space for play, and Playful City USA is part of that effort. It’s the fourth year of the annual program.

First Lady Michelle Obama announced the launch of the “Let’s Move” campaign in 2010 to help solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation in a variety of ways, including unstructured play.

“An extreme misconception exists in our country that play among children is a luxury when, in fact, it’s an absolute necessity,” Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! CEO and cofounder, said in a prepared statement.

“For decades, this notion dominated our actions and we continue to see the damaging results — a monumental lack of playspaces for children and skyrocketing childhood obesity rates. Palmetto Bay refused to adhere to the status quo and realized all children deserve a municipal commitment to the cause of play. These 118 Playful City USA communities serve as beacons for the rest of our nation that an investment in children is an investment in our future.”

A report from the National League of Cities indicated that 70 percent of city officials are responding to the economic crisis by making personnel cuts, while a pre-summer National Recreation and Parks Association survey found that 55 percent of its members suffered budget cuts in 2010 with more expected next year.

For the third consecutive year, Florida led the nation with the most Playful City USA communities with California and Arizona sharing second place for the second straight year.

For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, including applications for 2011, visit onkline at

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