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Around The Playground

And the Nat'l Awards for Excellence in Park and Rec Management Go to...

Above and Below: Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation, Lawrenceville, Ga., received a 2008 Gold Medal for excellence in park and rec management for communities with populations of 250,000 or more. Pictured are Sweet Water Park in Lawrenceville (above) and Duncan Creek Park (left) in Dacula.
Photos courtesy of Heather Sawyer, Public Relations Manager, Gwinnett County Government.

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) announced their 2008 recipients of the National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

The Gold Medal demonstrates excellence in long-range planning, fiscal management, citizen support, environmental stewardship, preservation, technological integration and services for special populations.

Gold Medal honors are awarded across five classes based on population served, in addition to a state park award that is given every other year. The 2008 Gold Medal recipients by category are:

  • Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation, Lawrenceville, Ga.
    Class I (pop. 250,000 and over)
  • Grand Prairie Parks and Recreation, Grand Prairie, Texas
    Class II (pop. 100,001-250,000)
  • Canton Leisure Services, Canton, Mich.
    Class III (pop. 50,001-100,000)
  • Carol Stream Park District, Carol Stream, Ill.
    Class IV (pop. 25,001-50,000)
  • Town of Herndon Parks and Recreation Department, Herndon, Va.
    Class V (pop. 25,000 and less)

At Play at the White House

Why not a playground for the Obama children and the neighbor kids at the White House?

A recent article in thedailygreen suggested the new president might want to make some changes to all that lawn in front of the White House. Plant an organic vegetable garden, aka Victory garden, for instance, as even urban folk have done in particularly hard economic times. Or, perhaps, let native grasses and flowers prosper instead of turf, or ... maybe build a playground for the Obama kids, Malia Anne, 10, Sasha, seven, and invite the neighborhood kids to play! With plenty of difficult economic times still ahead, we could all use some more playtime.

KOMPAN, LA84 and Nike to Build 'FREEGAME' Courts throughout Los Angeles

Multisport courts, aka FREEGAME, are surfaced with 'Nike Grind', made from recycled Nike athletic shoes. Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program has donated 'Nike Grind' recycled materials to nearly 300 sport and playground surfacing projects around the world. A FREEGAME court can be used to play soccer, volleyball, basketball, field hockey or most any athletic game.

KOMPAN, a leader in commercial playground and athletic equipment, has teamed with Nike and LA84 to introduce the multisport concept of FREEGAME using Nike Grind surfaces in parks throughout Los Angeles.

The first FREEGAME facility was completed at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center, with dedication ceremonies featuring Mexican soccer star Jorge Campos. A FREEGAME court can be used to play soccer, volleyball, basketball, field hockey or most any game people invent. Mark Mariscal, superintendent of L.A. Parks & Rec reports the city is using the first FREEGAME court for youth soccer clinics for ages 4-8, and soccer league play for 5-15 year olds. The court is also heavily used for basketball pick-up games seven days a week.

"Sustainable play is at the core of our company," said Tom Grover, president of KOMPAN. (Our) "products are built using nontoxic, recyclable materials, in compliance with the most stringent environmental standards."

The LA84 Foundation, Nike and KOMPAN have a goal to improve 84 sports facilities in the Los Angeles area in the next couple of years, providing sport courts where young people can play and develop skills.

"Youth should have safe, adequate facilities to play the sport of their choice," said Patrick Escobar, vice president of grants and programs for the LA84 Foundation.

The LA84 Foundation, a private nonprofit, is so-called because it holds a surplus of funds from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and has committed some $177 million to accomplish its mission to support a wide array of youth sport programs, award grants to youth sports organizations and conduct its own youth sports and coaching education programs. About two million boys and girls and more than 1,000 youth sports organizations throughout Southern California have benefited from the endowment. LA84 also purports to operate the largest sports research library in North America, the Paul Ziffren Sports Resource Center (visit

"With the LA84 Foundation, we're helping bring to communities in Los Angeles a fun, eco-friendly, multisport solution that makes everyone an athlete and let's people play," said Alicia Maddox, a Nike West manager.

Kaboom! Ends Year with a Bang

KaBOOM! and 24-Hour Fitness erected a new playground on Dec. 13 for a Houston neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Ike, and will build another there in early 2009.

From its inception in 1995, KaBOOM! has led over 1,500 playground construction projects that pair community leaders with funding partners. KaBOOM finished out the year with a flurry of playground construction.

Throughout October, 24 Hour Fitness donated $1 from the monthly dues of Houston area members to KaBOOM! to help build two playgrounds in Houston neighborhoods ravaged by Hurricane Ike.

KaBOOM! has called on Houston-area residents and organizations to document playgrounds damaged by the storm on the KaBOOM! Playspace Finder ( As the damaged playgrounds are added to the online database, KaBOOM! will work to recruit supporters in the region to help clean-up and repair those play spaces.

KaBOOM! selected St. Petersburg among more than a dozen other communities to receive a new community-built playground, which was built on Dec. 6 at Trailhead Park.

Gulfport, Miss.

The Gulfport, Mississippi police athletic league (PAL) purchased a lot at Gaston Point, a parcel of land where gangs congregated and drug deals went down.

On Dec. 18, 2008, the PAL, KaBOOM! reps and about 100 volunteers erected a playground on the property. The PAL plans on building a new PAL Center just across the street from the playground, a million dollar project funded by a PAL grant.

New Orleans

On Nov. 28, more than 200 volunteers from State Farm, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of New Orleans built a new, safe playground at the Abramson Science & Technology Charter School.

St. Pete, Fla.

The city of St. Petersburg, Fla.was selected among more than a dozen communities to receive a new playground. The selection was based on the city's "Play 'N' Close to Home" program that uses public and private partnerships to build public playgrounds within a safe walking distance, a half-mile, of every child in the city.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, city reps, 200 volunteers from America's Promise Alliance and KOOL-AID, plus organizers from KaBOOM! and community residents built a new playground at Trailhead Park on Dec. 6.


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December 6, 2019, 12:35 pm PDT

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