RiverWalk Play Everywhere Cubes (image via kaboom.org)

Grants reward US designers combining play with daily life

RiverWalk Play Everywhere Cubes Wayne County, MI Detroit RiverFront Conservancy The Detroit RiverWalk is one of the city’s most visited attractions, particularly the four green lawns (garden rooms) set just off the walk. The project, located in the garden rooms, will offer a unique shape to foster kids’ imaginations through colorful geometric shapes and invite visitors to come explore and imagine.

Creators of unusual play initiatives in cities in Michigan and New York states are hoping to benefit from a series of grants worth $1 million US dollars.

The funding is being provided through the Play Everywhere Challenge, which was jointly held by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit child campaigning body, and the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation’s Built to Play initiative.

It was designed to attract truly innovative ideas for making it easier for children and families to incorporate ‘play’ into their daily lives and routines, by reimagining public spaces to provide child-friendly opportunities.


Proposals included a football park featuring obstacle courts and climbing structures in Dearborn, Michigan, a ‘voyage of discovery’ adventure trail incorporating graphic design in Buffalo, New York, and a warm-weather sledding facility to provide an unusual fun summer activity in Port Huron, also Michigan. A total of 23 grants are being awarded, recognising various designs which can be scaled up or down.

The initiative responded to needs revealed through the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s work with the Aspen Institute Sports & Society programme looking at the ‘state of play’ in the areas of western New York and south east Michigan.

James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!, said: “Play is an essential part of childhood, and all kids should have opportunities to play, regardless of where they live or their family’s income. The more kids play, the more likely they are able to grow up happy, healthy and resilient. We are grateful to the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation for opening the doors for all kids to have the childhood they deserve through play.”


Jim Boyle, Vice President of Programs and Communications for the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, said: “While sports can be a great way for kids to be physically active, there’s also a strong need for kids to have more unstructured ‘free play’ in their daily lives. We can’t wait to see these well-designed and creative playspaces get built by communities across south east Michigan and western New York for all kids to enjoy.

Learn more about the Play Everywhere Challenge and view a gallery of grant winners from across Western New York and Southeast Michigan.

  • Creating sustainable play initiatives in cities worldwide is an area which will also be explored at next month’s Child in the City World Conference. One of the four key themes of the three day event will be mobility and access to the child-friendly city. For more information, including a full agenda and details on how to register, visit the website

Author: Simon Weedy

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