With a colorful hopscotch course painted on nearly every block, Ottawa has hopped onto the Playful City USA list for the sixth year, according to a city news release.
The recognition is a partnership with the Humana Foundation, KaBOOM!, honoring cities, towns and counties across the country for making communities more playable, according to the release. James Siegal, KaBOOM! president, said playability creates a better quality of life for residents.
“Play provides a competitive advantage for cities looking to attract and retain residents,” Siegal said in the news release. “With these esteemed leaders, and our friends and partners across the country, we continue to prioritize play for all kids.”
In addition to the 40 neighborhood hopscotch courses, Ottawa added two new playgrounds in Forest and Kanza parks, organized annual Play Day events and replaced damaged playground equipment. Along the Prairie Spirit Trail where playgrounds are sparse, the city installed play pods, or small play structures made of recycled tires to encourage outside play, according to the news release. The city has plans to add more pods in other locations.
A Play Task Force made up of city officials and city leaders is responsible for improving health and welfare of the community through play, the release said. The city’s largest coming project is developing the Teen Park to stimulate interest among teenagers in order to reduce drug, alcohol and cigarette use.
Ottawa ranked as the city recognized the most number of times out of the other Kansas locations including Bel Aire, Derby, Lawrence and Parsons, according to KaBOOM!’s website.
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to invigorating active play into children’s lives, particularly those living in poverty.
Amelia Arvesen is a Herald staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AmeliaArvesen.