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Let's Hear It for Play, Parks and KaBOOM!

Auburn, Kenmore, Mercer Island and Parkland are among 213 cities and towns to be recognized by KaBOOM!, the national organization dedicated to saving play. The cities were commended for their efforts to increase play opportunities for children.

Experts now realize that play helps brain development and allows kids to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity and cognitive and emotional strength. But kids don't spend enough time playing outside, in part because few live withing walking distance of parks or playgrounds.

In 2007, KaBOOM! created Playful City USA to help local governments address the "play deficit" by increasing the quality and quantity of play in their communities. "Cities like Auburn, Kenmore, Mercer Island and Parkland are key allies in the fight to combat the play deficit and serve as outstanding role models for government and community leaders across the country," says Darell Hammond, founder and CEO of KaBOOM!

Auburn recently opened a new gymnasium and activity center  and will replace an old playground in one neighborhood, build a new park in another and coordinate the second year of a free summer drop-in play program. Kenmore hosts a yearly play day to celebrate with healthy activities; Mercer Island's Adventure Playground gives kids the opportunity to play in the woods and use tools; and Parkland sponsors several community gatherings that promote the idea of play.

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