September 28, 2016
The City of Kannapolis has been selected as a winner in the Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million national competition that will award innovative ideas to make play easy, available, and fun for kids and families in cities across the U.S. The Challenge is hosted by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.
Kannapolis created a unique plan to turn sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks into art. The City of Kannapolis wants to encourage people to walk to downtown from the neighborhoods and schools on the east side of downtown near 1st Street by making it more fun and interesting on sidewalks and intersections.
The City will use the $10,000 in grant funds to paint on sidewalks and some crosswalks in a fun and artful manner and install vertical musical elements at certain locations. The City plans on engaging residents, students, the artist community, and other stakeholders in the area to be involved in this project. This project is meant to build on the City’s Discovery a Healthy Life brand by bringing playful elements to everyday spaces.
The Kannapolis Playful Sidewalks Project was selected as one of 50 winners out of a pool of more than 1,000 applications nationwide.
The Challenge, developed in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Target, Playworld, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts, attracted an outpouring of creative ideas to spark kids’ imaginations and get their bodies moving. The City of Kannapolis idea came from a passion for getting kids more involved in physical activity in partnership with the Kannapolis City Schools and the Cabarrus Health Alliance.
“We want walking, running, skipping and hopping to be fun for everyone. The KaBOOM! grant will be used to bring our community together to for an artsy project which once completed will be fun for people to experience and encourage them to get out and about,” said Irene Sacks, Kannapolis Economic and Community Development Director. Sacks will oversee the implementation of the Playful Sidewalks Project.
“Winners like the City of Kannapolis are at the vanguard of building kid-friendly cities that meet the needs of families and enable kids to thrive,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. “By integrating play into everyday spaces in such an innovative way, Kannapolis’ project is a great model to inspire other cities across the country to follow suit.”
Research shows play is vital to healthy brain development and is pivotal to how kids learn problem-solving, conflict resolution, and creativity - in other words, the skills they need to succeed as adults. Yet today, too many kids, especially those growing up in poverty, are missing out on opportunities for play because of families’ time pressures, the lure of screens, and a lack of safe places to go. Meanwhile, evidence shows missing out on play time puts kids at risk for challenges ranging from obesity to anxiety to trouble adjusting in school.
More information will be coming soon on the City’s implementation of the project and can be found at kannapolisnc.gov. To learn more about the Play Everywhere Challenge, and view a gallery of winning ideas from cities across the US, please visit http://kaboom.org/playeverywhere.