Dothan’s Mayor Schmitz Speaks About Children & Play
August 20, 2010
Why Play Matters for Children Now More than Ever
By Mayor Mike Schmitz 19 Aug 2010
On August 18th, Dothan celebrated being named Playful City USA for the 4th straight year by KaBOOM!, the national play advocate organization.
The Greek philosopher Plato once said “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
Without question, this is especially true for our children. Yet, according to a KaBOOM! Playground Poll conducted by Harris Interactive, 82% of parents believe children don’t spend enough time playing outside and the National Survey of Children’s Health reports that more than 1/3 of all U.S. children are overweight or obese.
I have no doubts those two statistics are directly related. Children without a great place to play are at a substantially higher risk of being unhealthy. For a variety of reasons, most adults have forgotten how important play is for children. Additional studies continue to prove that children who receive prescribed amounts of time for play are prone to be healthier and perform better in school.
I’m proud to say that Dothan is doing something to address this play deficit. In fact, national non-profit KaBOOM! recently recognized Dothan as one of 118 Playful City USA communities in 2010 for the fourth straight year. This program honors cities and towns determined to prioritize play and ensure that children are healthy by providing the time and space for play.
In Dothan, we take play seriously. Our leadership has taken steps to make sure that our children have access to great places to play. The City of Dothan has created a “Play Commission” and developed an action plan for play. The goal is to have a “great place to play” within walking distance of every child in Dothan. To augment our efforts we have funded training for 3 Leisure Services staff members qualifying them as Certified Playground Safety Inspectors. Every year we increase our play assets to get closer to our goal. With every new playground there is a Community Build sharing the experience of providing these playgrounds with our citizens, and reducing overall costs.
Through the Playful City USA program, other communities across the country look to Dothan as a role model. These cities and towns will examine our best practices and look to replicate them in their communities. I take a tremendous amount of pride in knowing that what we’re doing here in Dothan will improve the lives of not only our children, but children elsewhere as well.