JACCC Among Winners of Grant for Children’s Play Zones

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Image from JACCC’s “Little Tokyo Open” proposal.

The 10 winners — including the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in — of a total of $200,000 in grants to fund ideas on converting everyday spaces into children’s play zones were announced Oct. 12 by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the project’s partners, KaBOOM! and Dr Pepper Snapple.

Several projects involve painting playful games and activities on the sidewalks of surrounding neighborhood schools and libraries, while others offer kid-friendly, interactive installations complete with fitness equipment and mobile gardens. One bus stop will feature permanent musical stations, while a historic neighborhood will become home to a nine-hole miniature golf course. These projects will provide stimulating experiences for more than 11,000 kids to play, learn, grow and just be kids across various neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, including Little Tokyo, Watts and Boyle Heights.

“All children deserve safe, fun places to play where they can be inspired to dream,” Garcetti said. “With the support of Let’s Play Everywhere LA, the winners of this grant will use the power of creativity to awaken young Angelenos’ imaginations and promote healthy activity in our neighborhoods.”

Little Tokyo, one of only three remaining historic Japantowns in the United States, will be transformed into a more playful and family-friendly attraction. The JACCC’s Little Tokyo Open: The Art of Mini Golf will turn underused areas into a nine-hole miniature golf course where participants can take a self-guided tour of Little Tokyo as they play. More than 400 kids will play and test out their golf skills.

The other winners are Walk the K! (Kester Elementary School), The Play Walk (Pico Union Project), Let’s Play N Learn (California Greenworks), Plaza de la Musica (Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative), L.A. Watts Play Space (Grant Housing and Economic Development Corporation), Boyle Heights Community (Proyecto Pastoral), Rosemont Rec Stop (Youth Policy Institute), Travel Town Tracks to Learning (American Southwest Railway Association), and Pico Play Plaza (Pico Great Street Collaborative).

Let’s Play Everywhere LA is the first city-wide initiative to award out-of-the-box solutions to make play a way of life in everyday and unexpected places – on sidewalks, in vacant lots, at bus stops, in open streets and beyond – especially in communities where families struggle to make ends meet.

“Let’s Play Everywhere LA will make play the easy choice for kids and families in their communities,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM! “The winning projects offer more opportunities for families to ensure kids can get the play they need to thrive. With the support from Dr Pepper Snapple and the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, more kids across Los Angeles County will get the childhood they deserve through great, safe places to play.”

The projects are making play more accessible for the kids of Los Angeles. Play is critical to the physical, cognitive, creative, social and emotional development of all kids, yet far too many are missing out on the chance to play, due to lack of play spaces at home, at school and in communities.

“We’re thrilled with the creativity the grant winners have brought to these projects,” said Vicki Draughn, vice president – corporate affairs for Dr Pepper Snapple. “A place to play can be so many more places than we ever imagined and we can’t wait to see these ideas come to life.”

Applicants for the award were restricted to government entities, nonprofits or individuals/groups who have partnered with them. Photos and descriptions of the grantees’ upcoming projects can be found at http://kaboom.org/la.

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