KaBOOM! Honors ФPlayful CitiesХ

A total of 151 cities and towns have earned recognition as 2011 Playful City USA communities for their efforts to increase play opportunities for children.

With only 1 in 5 U.S. children living within walking distance of a park or playground, outdoor play opportunities have dwindled over past generations.

The Playful City USA initiative, sponsored by national non-profit play advocate KaBOOM!, is one effort in combating that play deficit. The program advocates local policies that increase play opportunities for children.

Hailing from 38 states and one territory, the 151 honorees range in size from five-time winners Atlanta and San Francisco to first-time recipient Gypsum, Colo., with a population of 4,000.

According to KaBOOM!, these communities are making a commitment to play and physical activity by developing unique local plans to increase the quantity and quality of play, many with an eye to innovation and cost effectiveness.

"The Play Deficit continues to harm our children and stifle their mental and physical development, while directly facilitating the ongoing childhood obesity crisis," said Darell Hammond, KaBOOM! founder and CEO.

"These cities are committed to the well-being of children and serve as outstanding role models for the rest of America," he said.

Each of the 151 communities is now eligible for grants through Let's Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids active nationwide. Through $15 million in grants over the next three years, Let's Play and KaBOOM! plan to build or fix up 2,000 playgrounds, benefiting an estimated 5 million children.

Recipients of the 2011 grants will be announced on Sept. 19. Grants range in value from $15,000 to $30,000.

For more information and a list of this year's Playful City USA honorees, go to http://kaboom.org/take_action/playful_city_usa