258 cities and towns recognized for putting the needs of kids and families first as part of Playful City
USA program
Ottawa, KS May 17, 2017 – National non-profit KaBOOM! is honoring Ottawa with a 2017 Playful City USA designation for the eighth 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.

The City is announcing a temporary logo to celebrate the recognition and the Mayor indicated, “We are thrilled to once again be recognized and hope the community recognizes both the achievement of designation and what we have done together to improve the quality of life.” Ottawa has focused on a number of initiatives over the last eight years, from Playground Improvements to Hopscotch on the trails and sidewalks. In addition, annually the Play Day has been a fun summer event for our families, with this year’s event scheduled for July 29 at Forest Park. The major opportunity in the workings is the Teen Park, with both work and fundraising scheduled for significant steps in 2017 and 2018. Lastly, the Play Task Force has also been working opportunities encouraging adults to be playful whether at work or home, weekday or weekend. All of these are focused on health and wellness, reduction of stress, and reducing physical inactivity.

Our Play Task Force, Commission, Partners, and staff have put heart and soul into improving the quality of life for our residents and I am supremely proud of this re-designation and recognition of those efforts,” said Richard U. Nienstedt, City Manager. Partners include the Ottawa Recreation Commission,
ECKAN, USD 290, Ottawa Library, Health Department, and local citizens. Membership of the Task
Force is a volunteer function and more can join the group by contacting Wynndee Lee, at wlee@ottawaks.gov. Current Task Force members are: Chad Bruner, Cyndi Brewer, DJ Welsh, Emily Graves, Fonda Rose, Jeanne Stroh, Erin Laurie, Mike Haeffele, Tommy Sink, Valerie Tindill, Wynndee Lee and Stella Tharp.

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 Ottawa 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 kaboom.org/playfulcityusa. You can also take part in the conversation with leaders across the country using #PLAYceforkids on Twitter and Facebook.

About Ottawa
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On Sept.6, 1864, Ottawa was founded along the south side of the Marais des Cygnes River. The town was incorporated in 1866, and in 1867, voted to become a City of the Second Class under the guidelines established by the State of Kansas.
For more information, visit www.ottawaks.gov or call (785) 229-3600 Play Task Force, visit http://play.ottawaks.gov/ or call (785)229-3621

About KaBOOM!
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids—particularly those growing up in poverty in America—the childhood they deserve filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build, open or improve nearly 16,700 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers and served 8.5 million kids. KaBOOM! creates great places to play, inspires communities to promote and support play and works to drive the national discussion about the importance of play in fostering healthy and productive lives. To learn why #playmatters and why cities are
embracing #playability: visit kaboom.org or join the conversation at twitter.com/kaboom or facebook.com/kaboom.