York could receive grant money by showing the city is serious about playtime.

A new task force is aimed at making York a "Playful City," a designation that could lead to grant funding for playground improvements.

The recognition is offered through the nonprofit KaBOOM!, a group aimed at making sure every child has a playground within walking distance.

York Mayor John Brenner learned about the organization when he helped the group build a playground in New Orleans last year.

His wife, Adrienne, is leading York's effort.

She remembered watching with their son, Sam, 4, as workers removed the seesaw from Lincoln Park a few years ago.

"It was so sad," she said.

At the time, she said something should be done to improve the playground.

She said she suspects that's why the mayor asked her to lead the task force, which includes various local agencies aimed at health and recreation.

"You don't complain to my husband unless you have a solution (or are) willing to work on it," she said.

York's team is called Build on Play, or BOP. Municipalities must hold a "Day of Play," audit current playgrounds and develop a plan for play in order to be a Playful City.

The designation would open the door for grants to improve or add on to playgrounds and other resources.

The York group would like to update one playground each year. Lincoln Park is first on the list. It has the oldest equipment, installed in 1990.

And while the Playful City status would help the effort, it's not required, Adrienne Brenner said.


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The task force will begin holding community meetings and looking for partners.

She wants more than monetary help from the community. She wants kids to help design the playground and community members to roll up their sleeves to build it, she said.

"You can really save, like, 40 percent of the cost of playgrounds if you get the community to build it," she said.

In tough budget times, being eligible for grants would be a benefit, said Tom Landis, the city's superintendent of parks, recreation and sanitation.

"Because a lot of the stuff we do is free for the kids, our programs are the ones sometimes eliminated or money is taken away from us," he said. "This definitely helps. The city would not be in a position to go out through tax dollars and budgeting and raise this money."

Adrienne Brenner said it's important to look at play in the age of video games, television and childhood obesity.

"It has a direct impact on not only health, but social skills, problem solving," she said.

The mayor said part of the reason he is pushing for the York City Council to ban smoking in parks is because KaBOOM! encourages it. That could put York ahead of other municipalities for grants, he said.

"For all the right reasons, we're trying to encourage play," he said.

amason@ydr.com; 771-2048

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KaBOOM! is a nonprofit aimed at giving every child a place to play within walking distance of home.

KaBOOM! offers "Playful City" designation to municipalities that demonstrate they are working on play. To apply, municipalities must form a task force, draft an action plan, survey playgrounds, identify money spent on play and declare a "Day of Play." Cities with the designation become eligible for grants for playgrounds. For more information, visit www.kaboom.org.

For more city park news, log onto inyork.com/ydr.
 

IF YOU GO

The city's "Day of Play" will be Aug. 4 at Lincoln Park. Participants in the city's summer playground program and others can play games and participate in other activities. Details are still being worked out.