Baton Rouge was one of 217 cities and towns recognized as a 2013 Playful City USA community by the nonprofit group KaBOOM!.

The recognition is awarded to communities that promote local policies that increase play opportunities for children, according to an East Baton Rouge city-parish news release.

Sponsored by the Humana Foundation, Playful City USA is a national program from KaBOOM!

Mayor-President Kip Holden said that while it’s an honor to receive the recognition, it’s not an accident that Baton Rouge was named a “Playful City USA” community.

“This designation fits perfectly with our city’s Healthy City Initiative, which targets childhood obesity by encouraging kids to eat healthier and exercise more,” Holden said. “It’s also a testimony to the efforts of BREC, which is one of the top parks and recreation programs in the country, and to the local school system for recognizing the value of physical education.”

BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight said that East Baton Rouge Parish voters approved a ballot initiative in 2004 to expand and improve the local park system.

“Through our Imagine Your Parks Program, BREC has created 12 community parks to ensure that no matter where they are in East Baton Rouge Parish, every child is within 15 minutes of a park,” McKnight said in the release.

KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization, created Playful City USA in 2007 to help local governments address the lack of play.

Other Louisiana cities listed as Playful City USA communities are: New Orleans, Hammond, New Roads and DeRidder.

The 217 Playful City USA communities are now eligible for $15,000, $20,000 and $30,000 grants. Grant recipients will be announced in the fall.