McAllen, Texas - This week, the City of McAllen was selected as a finalist out of a pool of more than 1,000 applicants in the KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million national competition that will award outside-the-box ideas to make play easy, available, and fun for kids and families in cities across the U.S. Winners will be announced in the fall, 2016.
The Transit Department created the Metro McAllen Swing-and-Ride Project to renovate the bus stop outside McAllen Public Library on Nolana Avenue by installing new playful elements such as oversized musical instruments, swing set and painted sidewalks with fun activities. This innovative project encourages patrons to interact together in a safe and friendly environment as they wait for their bus to arrive and help children get involved in physical activity, play, and music.
“We are proud to support services such as this that invest in innovative infrastructure and programs that benefit our residents and visitors. Being selected as a finalist after tough competition is a great accomplishment on our part,” said Mayor Jim Darling. “We hope to be selected as a winner to expand our efforts to make play a way of life for kids and families in our community.”
McAllen Transit Director Mario Delgado said, “The City of McAllen is already recognized as a ‘playful city’; we decided that a swing-and-ride would be a great fit for our stop at the McAllen Public Library. With over 2,000
passengers per month, the Swing-and-Ride would offer users of all ages and abilities a playful experience while they await a Metro McAllen or Metro
Connect bus. These playful amenities will attract new and existing riders and encourage safe, healthy and outdoor play.”
The Play Everywhere Challenge is hosted by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all children, particularly those growing up in poverty in America. The competition was 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. It has attracted an outpouring of creative ideas to spark kids’ imaginations and get their bodies moving.
“We were astonished at the number and quality of the applications we received,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. “To us, it shows a huge, untapped potential to reimagine cities with kids in mind, and boost their opportunity to get the play they need to thrive. And when kids thrive, cities thrive.”
Kids need play to grow up healthy, resilient and ready for life. 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 play because of families’ time pressures, the lure of screens, and a lack of safe places to go. Meanwhile, evidence shows missing out on the chance to play puts kids at risk for challenges ranging from obesity to anxiety to trouble adjusting in school.
Winners for the competition will be selected in fall 2016. To learn more about the Play Everywhere Challenge, including a gallery of ideas for what Play Everywhere could look like across the U.S. please visit http://kaboom.org/playeverywhere.