Still playful after all these years
GYPSUM — You have to love a town that tops its list of attributes with one of the state’s largest recreation centers, a shooting sports park and a world-class horseshoe facility.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that, for the fifth straight year, Gypsum was honored as a Playful City USA.
The national program, called KaBOOM — it doesn’t seem to be an acronym for anything — honors cities and towns across the country for making their cities more playable.
Working hard at play
Gypsum is working hard to grow economically while maintaining its character as a friendly, livable, family-oriented rural community, said Krista DeHerrera, Gypsum’s special projects manager.
For example, Gypsum built one of Colorado’s largest municipal recreation centers, featuring just about every way possible for people to break a sweat and enjoy themselves.
Voters in Gypsum agreed to tax themselves to pay for it, with the Gypsum Town Council’s pledge that when it was paid for the council would eliminate that tax. The council did, marking one of the only times in memory that a government reduced taxes.
Play is good business
Gypsum’s economic development efforts even revolve around having fun.
DeHerrera said one goal is to increase visitor awareness of Gypsum as a great place to raise a family. There could soon be more families than ever in Gypsum. The western Eagle River Valley is projected to grow far faster than anywhere else in Eagle County, especially Gypsum, according to data from the Colorado state demographer and other economic data.
The town’s stated goals include:
• Provide clean safe parks, green spaces and recreational facilities.
• Provide efficient services to Gypsum residents regardless of income, background and ability.
• Effectively plan for the future recreational needs of Gypsum residents
• Continually strive to improve existing facilities while seeking opportunities for future development.
• Create a partnership with our recreation district and other community organizations, nonprofits and civic groups to improve the quality of life for all citizens.
KaBOOM! was launched in 1996 by Darrell Hammond, and has helped build, open or improve nearly 16,300 playgrounds around the country. The group has more than 1 million volunteers and has served 8.1 million kids.
Hammond said the problem is that America’s kids are playing less than any previous generation. In part, this is because kids ages eight to 18 now spend almost half of their days in front of screens instead of engaging in active play.
Only one in four children gets 60 minutes of physical activity or active play every day. As play has decreased, obesity rates and behavioral and cognitive disorders have increased, Hammond said, citing research by his organization and many others.
“Childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years, and in 2011, the decline of play was linked to suicide rates that have quadrupled among teenagers under the age of 15, along with the rise of depression and anxiety in kids and young adults,” Hammond said.
And then there are the misguided efforts to reduce or eliminate recess from schools. Data says schools without recess face more incidents of classroom behavioral problems, from kids’ emotional outbursts to problems interacting with their peers and teachers.
“We are thrilled to recognize these communities that have invested their time and efforts to put kids first,” said KaBOOM! CEO James Siegal.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.