Last week, Chicago Tribune columnist Blair Kamin’s article regarding big city open spaces and park systems caught my eye with Chicago ranking 14th out of 40 of the nation’s largest cities. Naturally I was curious to see which cities we were trailing: San Francisco, Boston, New York, Washington and Philadelphia. Scores were based on access to parks, park acreage, as well as services and investment.
The good news is 90 percent of Chicago’s 2.7 million residents are within walking distance from a park, forest preserve, or open space. It seems there is room for improvement in regards to increasing median park size and boosting a “relatively low 2.3 playgrounds per 10,000 residents.”
Playground building is the expertise of KaBOOM! - a national nonprofit organization that has built over 2,000 playgrounds for more than 5.5 million children. Their mission is “to create great play spaces through the participation and leadership of communities.” The ultimate goal is a place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
Take a look at what KaBOOM! and partner Blue Cross/Blue Shield did in Berwyn, Illinois
I had the opportunity to hear from KaBOOM! CEO and founder Darell Hammond at a recent Mom Congress conference in Washington, DC. In building playgrounds and encouraging play KaBOOM! is creating:
• Healthier, happier, and smarter children
• Greener cities
• Better schools
• Stronger neighborhoods
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s announcement this spring of the influx of $290 million into more than 800 parks and recreation facilities over the next five years should help Chicago move up the list.