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Published on May 22nd, 2017 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


City of Columbia Honored as 2017 Playful City USA Community

Columbia Recognized for Fourth Consecutive Year

National non-profit KaBOOM! is honoring the City of Columbia with a 2017 Playful City USA designation for the fourth consecutive year. Playful City USA honors cities and towns across the country for putting the needs of families first so kids can learn, grow and develop important life skills. These communities are transforming ordinary places into playful spaces and using play as a solution to the challenges facing their residents.

“We are so thrilled to be named a Playful City for the fourth consecutive year,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “Our incredible staff at Parks & Recreation has truly set the bar high and made play possible for all of Columbia’s families and our children.”

The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department operates and maintains 60 city parks and green spaces, 600 acres of city-maintained park land, 55 tennis courts and multiple city pools, spray pads and ponds. All city parks are open year-round from dawn to dusk with no entrance fees.

New additions to the park system include an outdoor basketball court at the Charles R. Drew Wellness Center, a bocce ball court at Sims Park, a playground at Greenview Park and a new Miracle League ball field and boundless playground (under construction) at Owens Field Park.

The department also offers a variety of programming for both youth and adults to play through its athletics and outdoor adventure programs to special events such as the Mayor’s Drills & Skills Clinics, Kids Day, golf and tennis clinics, nature and wildlife walks and more.

“We are honored to receive this wonderful designation as a Playful City USA,” said City Manager Teresa Wilson. “Our parks system is at the core of our most important public services and is one of the foundations of the quality of life in our community.”

The 2017 Playful City USA recognition includes 258 communities across the country that makes it as easy as possible for kids to play. In total, these communities feature more than 14,000 safe and engaging playspaces that serve more than 4 million kids.

“We are honored to be designated as a Playful City USA community for the fourth year in a row,” Randy Davis, Director of Parks & Recreation said. “We know that play contributes to a child’s social, physical and emotional development, so we are committed to providing opportunities for all children to play.”

“Columbia is a unique place because of the variety of activities that both youth and adults can participate in throughout the year,” Davis said.

As cities are becoming hotbeds for innovation, communities across the country are creating inventive ways to attract and retain residents. Playful City USA honorees are taking bold action to ensure kids have great places to play – all with the ultimate goal of making play the easy choice for all kids, no matter where they live. In addition to the playground down the street, Playful City USA communities are turning grocery stores, vacant lots, crosswalks and sidewalks into opportunities for play.

“We are thrilled to recognize the City of Columbia for putting kids first,” said KaBOOM! CEO James Siegal. “The well-being of our communities starts with the well-being of our kids, and play is critical for them to thrive. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all kids get the childhood they deserve filled with play.”

To see the full list of Playful City USA communities and to learn more about making play the easy choice for kids, visit

For more information about the City of Columbia’s parks, recreation centers and programs, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 803-545-3100 or visit


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