Thomasville wins Playful City USA designation

May. 22, 2014 @ 05:13 PM

The play’s the thing in Thomasville, which was just named a 2014 Playful City USA.
The designation, which comes on the heels of the city’s designation in 2013 as an All-America City, recognizes Thomasville as a community that emphasizes the importance of play for children by making play as accessible as possible. Thomasville is one of 212 cities and towns across the country — and one of only 13 in North Carolina — to receive the distinction this year.
“This award recognizes communities that are leaders in playability — the extent to which a city makes it easy for kids to get balanced and active play,” said Cory Tobin, program director for the Thomasville Parks and Recreation Department.
The Playful City designation is awarded by KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that all children, particularly the 16 million American children living in poverty, get the balance of active play they need to become healthy adults. It is awarded in partnership with the Humana Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the Humana health-care company.
Tobin said Thomasville officials learned about the Playful City designation at last year’s conference of the N.C. Recreation & Park Association.
“The more we heard about it, the more we thought it was something we wanted to be a part of,” Tobin said. “So we applied, and we were lucky enough to get the honor.”
In designating Playful Cities, KaBOOM! looks at such factors as the number of play spaces available in the city, programs that facilitate play for children, partnerships with other organizations that address play-related needs in the city, and plans for the coming year to further enhance the city’s accessibility to play opportunities.
“One of the things they look for is play deserts,” Tobin said, alluding to neighborhoods that have many children but no place to play outside. “They want to make sure there’s an opportunity for kids to have a playground close by. So we listed the playgrounds we have, and also the local churches that let us use them as play spaces.”
It also helped, Tobin continued, that the city completely replaced the playground equipment at seven city parks, an enhancement funded by community partners, donations and the city.
“They look at community cooperation, and we work with the YMCA, Novant Health, Thomasville Rotary Club and a lot of other organizations to present programs like our Party in the Park series,” Tobin said. “That’s where we’ll set up in a playground with food and games, and we try to get everybody out to the playground.”
Other 2013 achievements listed in Thomasville’s Playful City USA application include such accomplishments as playground renovations and improvements; the purchase of a handicap-accessible bus; programs such as festivals, athletic leagues and classes for the community; and a Day of Dance, designed to promote heart health awareness, among many others.
“We’re excited about being a Playful City — it’s a nice honor for Thomasville,” Tobin said.
The city soon will receive two highway markers designating Thomasville as a Playful City USA, he added.

jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579