SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco’s playgrounds are getting a major boost thanks to a $1.6 million contribution by Kaiser Permanente to the LetsPlaySF! campaign, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today.
The LetsPlaySF! campaign, a partnership between SF Rec and Parks and the San Francisco Parks Alliance, promises to transform 13 timeworn play areas used by 20,000 children in neighborhoods across the city. Kaiser Permanente’s contribution represents one of the largest commitments to LetsPlaySF!
“The mission of San Francisco Rec and Parks to ensure all communities and families thrive regardless of socioeconomic status resonated strongly with ours at Kaiser Permanente,” said Janet Liang, president, Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “Outdoor play is essential for total health and we are proud to create welcoming and safe gathering places for laughter, joy and exercise through these re-furbished and new spaces in local neighborhoods. Gathering places such as playgrounds strengthen families, and community bonds.”
Washington Square Playground in North Beach, the first to undergo a transformation, re-opened in January. Rec and Parks has broken ground at five more locations—the Panhandle Playground, Alice Chalmers Playground in the Outer Mission, McLaren Playground and group picnic area in the Excelsior-Portola neighborhood, Merced Heights Playground, and Sgt. Macaulay Playground in the Tenderloin.
Construction on the remaining seven playgrounds will take place from late 2019 to 2021. Those include the Buchanan Street Mall in the Western Addition, Golden Gate Heights Park, Herz Playground in Visitacion Valley, Juri Commons in the Mission, Richmond Playground, Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove, and West Portal Playground.
The campaign aims to supplement $22 million in public funds with $14.5 million in donor contributions.
The playgrounds were selected by a citizen task force based on presence of unhealthy chemicals in playground wood, with priority given to playgrounds in low-income neighborhoods dense with children.
“LetsPlaySF is truly about equity,” said SF Rec and Parks General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “Every child in San Francisco deserves top notch, creative neighborhood playgrounds to exercise their bodies and imaginations.”
Studies have linked access to parks and playgrounds to youth and family wellness. Growing research also speaks to the impact of exercise on brain development. Children living in neighborhoods without a park or playground are 26 percent more likely to be obese. Play also helps children forge strong connections with one another through learning to share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and develop self-advocacy skills.
“We’re grateful to Kaiser for helping us transform the 13 highest need playgrounds across San Francisco. With their support, 20,000 children will have access to safe, welcoming and inspiring playgrounds—a necessity for any healthy neighborhood,” said Drew Becher, CEO of San Francisco Parks Alliance.