Lehigh Valley

KaBOOM!: Allentown, Bethlehem, Reading among nation's most playful communities

National group honors cities for children's programs

Allentown, Bethlehem recognized for dedication to play

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Allentown, Bethlehem and Reading are among the most playful cities in America.

For kids, that is.

The cities have made an unranked listing of  most playful cities by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to preventing play by children from becoming extinct.

It reports kids spend nearly eight hours day sitting in front of TV and computer screens. By recognizing towns that have an outstanding dedication to play, the organization hopes to encourage communities to share ideas and programs to increase play time.

Allentown and Bethlehem are among 217 cities and towns across the country to be named a 2013 Playful City USA  by KaBOOM! -- for demonstrating creative commitments to addressing the lack of play among children.

"We are pleased to be named a Playful City USA community for the fifth straight year," said Mayor Ed Pawlowski.  "Our playground at Cedar Beach is visited by children of all ages.  Not a day goes by that I don't see it being enjoyed by dozens of children."

Added John Mikowychok, Allentown's new parks & recreation director: "We are excited to be one of just eight Pennsylvania municipalities to receive this national honor. It's our goal to provide as many opportunities as possible to keep our children active."

What makes Allentown so playful?

In 2012, Franklin Park was rebuilt with help from 50 community volunteers building equipment. Many other play areas in the city were improved through neighborhood cleanups, litter removal and equipment repair. And the Police Athletic League played a critical role in encouraging play by tutoring and engaging with students at each elementary school in the city.

In addition to Bethlehem, which was named for the fourth consecutive year, other Pennsylvania cities on KaBOOM's list include Reading, Pittsburgh, York, McKeesport, Indiana and Factoryville.

Click here for more on Reading's 'playful' portrait.


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