(McAllen, Texas)– This week, the City of McAllen was selected as one of 50 winning cities 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.
McAllen’s Transit Department created a unique plan to transform the bus stop located on Nolana Avenue, just south of the McAllen Public Library on 23rd Street. The transformation will include playful, oversized musical instruments, a swing set and painted sidewalks with fun activities. The Metro McAllen Swing-and-Ride 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 Transit Department’s idea came from a passion for getting kids more involved in play in unexpected places, like a bus stop.
“Winning this challenge is an honor for McAllen kids and for their chances to grow and develop through play,” said City of McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. “We hope this award will be the start of something great and that these transformations can be replicated at other city bus stops and public spaces.”
“Winners like the City of McAllen 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, the City of McAllen’s 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.
To learn more about the City of McAllen’s ideas for making play happen everywhere, contact Metro McAllen Swing-and-Ride Project Manager Robert De Leon at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.