The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

October 17, 2013

Albemarle celebrates ‘Playful City’ title

By Shannon Beamon, Staff Writer
CNHI News Service

Thursday, October 17, 2013 — The government shutdown ended up shutting down Cub Scouts Pack Five’s plans to go to Kings Mountain this past weekend.

However, Albemarle’s Celebration of Play kept the good times rolling.

The Pack from Cold Springs, N.C. ended up camping at Camp Barnhardt, between New London and Badin, where they heard about the Celebration of Play taking place at City Lake Park.

“It’s been really nice,” said one of the pack moms.

“I didn’t even know this park was here and we only live 20 minutes away.”

There were six different activities for the kids to try out at the Celebration of Play: basketball, soccer, golf, disc golf, BB shooting and archery.

Each kid was given a card, and for each activity they did they were given a sticker.

“If they’ve done everything we put them in a drawing for door prizes,” Albemarle Parks and Recreation Director Toby Thorpe said.

Cub Scout Anthony Maurer stood in line for the golfing station.

“I’m going to hit the ball to the yellow flag,” he said eyeing a golf club that was about as tall as he was.

“It’s really fun for them to get out and try this. They don’t get to try stuff like this any old time,” his pack leader said.

“We want to teach the youngsters to be active, not just sit at home on the couch,”  Thorpe said.

“Since we’re an outdoor oriented department that has always pushed outdoor activities, we’re doing some things like archery and BB shooting and golf. We try to do things that are lifetime sports.”

The kids rushed from station to station.

“I’ve done basketball and soccer and BB and archery,” Hunter Josey said.

“I shot all four cans on the BBs,” Ethan Pinion said.

“I got 12 points in basketball,” said the girl beside him.

This is the fourth year Parks and Recreation has held the Celebration of Play event.

“We’ve been doing it ever since we were named a Playful City, it’s one of the things we have to do to maintain that title,” Thorpe said.

Playful City is a title given out by KaBOOM! a national non-profit dedicated to creating playspaces for children, in recognition of a community “with local policies and programs that increase play opportunities for children.”

“We earned the playful city status basically by assessing our playgrounds and parks and putting together a plan of action to improve those spaces and make them inviting for kids,” Thorpe said.

Albemarle also had to set up a committee to follow through with the plan. Thorpe said they use the Parks and Recreation board for that, and mark all of Albemarle’s parks and play spaces on the KaBOOM! Website using a GOSS system.

Throughout the country, 217 cities that have met this standard. Six are in North Carolina.

The other five are Raleigh, Durham, Creedmore, Marion and Saluda.

“A lot of big cities get it. I think we’re one of the smaller ones,” Thorpe said.

“We’re proud of it.”

Thorpe said the title is practical too. As a playful city Albemarle was eligible for grants through KaBOOM!

“We haven’t been able to tap into all of them yet, but we have gotten what’s called an imagination playground grant,” Thorpe said.

Thorpe and Oliver Webster, Superintendent of Parks, wrote the grant. With it, Albemarle purchased a pair of portable playgrounds.

“Basically it’s a building block playground that youngsters can put together how they want,” Thorpe said.

“We keep one at the Wadell Center and one at the Niven Center. I don’t think many people know we have them though. We’d like to let more people know we have that. We can either bring it out to them or they can come to us.”

Thorpe said he intends to keep up with the KaBOOM! standard and feels it’s benefiting the city.

“We have a great time with the Celebration of Play every year. It gives the youngsters a chance to try out what we do. Hopefully they pick up some lifetime habits,” Thorpe said.

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at