City + Citizen News

City named 'Playful City' again!

Tuesday, May 7

Spartanburg one of only 16 cities nationally to earn designation every year

Today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation, but the City of Spartanburg is proud to announce that it is one of just 217 cities and towns that earned recognition from national non-profit KaBOOM! as a 2013 Playful City USA community for its efforts to increase play opportunities for children.


Spartanburg is one of just 16 cities and towns across the country to earn the distinction every year since the program was created in 2007. In addition, Spartanburg is one of just six communities in South Carolina to earn the recognition this year.


“This Playful City USA recognition shows that Spartanburg is committed to the wellbeing of children,” said City Parks & Recreation Manager Kim Moultrie. “This means we are a model for the rest of the country. We make play a priority and use innovative programs to get children active, playing, and healthy.”


Spartanburg recently announced a joint-use agreement with Spartanburg County School Districts 6 and 7 that opens school playgrounds to the public on school holidays, weekends and during the summer months. The agrement is only the second of its kind in South Carolina. The City also reopened Stewart Park last fall after a $1.7 million renovation. Stewart Park now features a multi-purpose field for football, softball, soccer and other activities, two full-length basketball courts, an interactive water spray pad, a playground, a walking trail and a picnic shelter.


The City of Spartanburg and the other Playful City USA communities are now eligible for one of 103 “Let’s Play” grants worth $2.1 million.


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is critical to healthy brain development. It allows children to use their creativity while simultaneously developing imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive and emotional strength. Yet today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation in part because only 1-in-5 live within walking distance of a park or playground. 


“Playgrounds are educational-grounds, pysical-grounds, social- and cognitive-grounds. I’m so blessed to live in a city that values the importance of ‘play’,” said Wanda Cheeks, the founder of Southside Unity in the Community, a non-profit that promotes volunteerism while providing opportunities to children. “This seventh year of being recognized as a Playful City exemplifies Spartanburg’s investment in all of our communities.”


Presented by The Humana Foundation, Playful City USA is a national program advocating for local policies that increase play opportunities for children and is a key platform in combating the play deficit. KaBOOM! created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the play deficit.  


For more information on the KaBOOM! Playful City USA program, visit