For the third consecutive year, Indianapolis has been named a Playful City USA community by KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing play into children’s lives. Mayor Greg Ballard has designated Saturday, Oct. 8, as the third annual citywide Indy Play Day, an opportunity for families and individuals to spend quality time together playing.

“It is vital for the well-being of our children and community to get regular exercise and enjoy recreational time together,” said Mayor Ballard. “As Indianapolis transitions to a more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly community, thanks to amenities such as the Cultural Trail and our installation of dozens of miles of new bike lanes and trails, it is important to make playing a priority in our lives.”

Indianapolis is one of 151 communities across 38 states and one territory recognized for the commitment, mission and willingness to make play important.  Research shows a strong connection between play and the development of social, emotional, cognitive and intellectual skills. On Indy Play Day, visit any of the City’s 207 parks, explore our 60 miles of greenway trails, visit a playground, check out a museum, zoo or cultural center, or just play in your own backyard. Make play part of your regular routine, such as planning a family play date every week to nurture your family’s health and well-being. Other suggestions for Indy Play Day 2011:

100 Year Celebration Challenge: Visit or learn about 100 parks throughout the City.  Go to www.indy.gov/parks for more information, and start exploring.

Nature Discovery Class, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, Eagle Creek Park, 7840 W. 56th St.: Includes guided nature walks, native plant identification, exhibit reptiles and amphibians feeding time, and simple ways to help the environment. Free with park admission.

Conservatory Tour, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, Garfield Park Conservatory, 2505 Conservatory Drive: Take a tour with master gardeners to discover the hidden treasures of the Conservatory. Free with admission.

Arts for All, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, Garfield Park Arts Center, 2432 Conservatory Drive: Families can explore performance, visual and language arts with fun, hands-on activities.  This month’s theme is Abstract Wire Sculptures. Free.

Tae-Kwan-Do, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, Riverside Park, 2420 N. Riverside E. Drive: This class teaches a popular martial arts form. Free.

Indoor swimming at Krannert Park Pool, 605 S. High School Road; Indy Island, 8575 E. Raymond St.; Thatcher Park Aquatic Center, 4649 W. Vermont St.; La Shonna Bates Aquatic Center, 1450 S. Reisner St.;  and George Washington Community School Pool, 2215 W. Washington St.: Call 327-PARK or visit www.indy.gov/parks for more info.

Check out the Indy Parks’ Fall Fun Guide for more activities! Visit www.indy.gov/parks or call (317)327-PARK.