*Author is Pat Rumbaugh, The Play Lady

I am willing to bet if I asked you what do you think the benefits of having play events in your community you would be able to come up with a couple of examples. We all enjoyed playing as children and hopefully you still like to play.

The most obvious benefit is when we hold play days; close streets to play and join already organized events by adding play activities we get people of all ages out playing. At our play days you can find adults among children making mud pies, playing board games, dancing to music and many people join in playing Simon Says with our state senator at the end of play day.

People as young as babies and as old as super seniors in there nineties have come to our play events. Can you think of an event in your community that brings that wide range of people together? Also people from different religious and socio-economic backgrounds all come together. Many strike up conversations while playing and become friends.

Teens have an opportunity to get community service hours while helping us out and they get to play. Many have shared how much fun they had with us and several have returned to help at the next play day.

Groups of people such as: scouts, teams, performance groups and others have come and played with us. The organizations get to spend time together and help us promote play. It is a win-win for everyone.

A while back I asked a couple of people to share a testimonial about what does it mean to live in A Playful City USA? In Takoma Park, Maryland the nonprofit KaBOOM! has named us A Playful City USA for seven years in a row. See a couple of responses below.

“Living in a playful city brings the community together with activities that focus on the young but in the case of Takoma Park, playful city programs have drawn in citizens across generations. Our playful city activities bring adults involved back to the joys of childhood and bring to our kids a sense of fun within our diverse community.  Playful city programs build trust, enhance communications and strengthen community.  Fun is the first part of fundamental and it is the basis of a caring and strong community. A playful city is a fun city, and who doesn't want to have fun!”

Jay Keller, citizen of Takoma Park

“What does it mean to live in A Playful City USA, to me it means enjoying the company of other people in a community that shares some of the same memories of things we did as children and being able to pass on to our children the things we did...For example playing such games like hopscotch, jump rope, kickball and dodge ball, playing jacks & tag.... even making mud pies, to me these types of activities are good to know and use to make our children as well as ourselves strong physically and mentally and to stray away  from for a little while, the modern technologies that we are exposed to everyday...(ex the computer, cell phones, iPod’s and even television)..People now days are so busy with their lives working and trying to make ends meet just to survive, we don't take or have family timeouts, we just need to let our brains breath and be creative again and by having A Playful City USA and our Play Lady in our community, it lets us do just that!!!   P L A Y Together!!!!!!”

Cherwanda Oliver, The Mud Pie Lady

“A playful place is a happier, healthy, friendlier and more enjoyable place to live.

Sandy Little-John

Those testimonials are just a small handful I have received over the years. Almost daily when I am out and about in Takoma Park I hear people asking me, “Pat what are you playing today?” “Pat when’s the next play event?” “Hey Pat have you thought about having a Dog Play Day?” We had our first dog play day in November. It was so much fun and the humans also had a great time playing.

Your community will come alive when they have the opportunity to play together. Start today and go ask a neighbor to play. Send out an email on a list serve or to a bunch of people and invite them out to play. If the weather is lousy outside invite them inside to play.

Go talk to your Recreation Department, ours has been great, they co-sponsor two of our play days and help us out in so many other ways.

Reach out to your city council, neighbors, and anyone who will listen, hey let’s start playing in your community today.

I am willing to bet you will be happier, healthier and less stressed when you add play to your community. Feel free to contact me if I can help you in anyway. Now go play!

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

1 The Play Lady Tells Us How to Become Play-ers

2 How to Start a Play Committee in Your Community

3 How to Plan a Play Day in Your Community

4 Pushing Play in the Community

5 Why Close a Street to Play?

6 Join an Already Planned Community Event and Promote Play

7 Inter-generational Games Night

8 Community Service: Teens Make Great Play Advocates

9 Start a Play Club in Your School

10 The Benefits of Play Events in Your Community

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Watch one of the two TEDxTalks Pat gave on play.

Pat is the Co-founder of the nonprofit Let’s Play America. Like us on Facebook Let’s Play America.

Invite The Play Lady to your community.

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