What is a Play Street?
A Play Street closes a specific street or streets to traffic and opens that space to the community to create an area where kids can play and be active. The Play Streets initiative offers a high-impact way to encourage more physical activity, particularly in neighborhoods that often lack open space. The beauty of the Play Streets concept is that it is flexible and allows each locality to mold it to its own needs and resources. While some close off just a block or two at a time others are closing many miles of city streets. Some partner with ongoing farmer’s markets to maximize space, and others find new areas to convert into play spaces.
Who is allowed to use the Play Street?
Anyone and everyone! A Play Street is open to all members of the community. Kids can play, while parents, caregivers and neighbors can socialize and be active with the kids.
Why create a Play Street?
Today, a third of children in America are overweight or obese. Most kids do not get the recommended 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Many urban areas lack places to play and one in five kids doesn’t have access to a playground or park. Play Streets provide a low cost solution by taking what we already have in our communities and helping to get kids active.
When did the PHA Play Street Program begin?
In July 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama, Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) announced an incredible opportunity to turn our nation’s streets into play spaces and help bring more physical activity back into the lives of kids. Now, with the winning cities selected, the planning has gone in to full swing, with Play Street programs scheduled to occur starting in December 2012 until October 2013. Make sure to check back for updates about the recent Play Street events!
How do Play Streets help the community?
The Play Streets program will not only help our kids be more active, but it will also help bring our community together in a safe, fun space. Pioneer programs in other cities have already shown that when given the choice between participating in Play Streets or a sedentary activity, the majority of children chose the more active option of Play Streets. The benefits go beyond children’s health too. In other cities, local businesses profited from the increased foot traffic that a Play Street brings.
How will PHA and BCBSA support each locality to help make the Play Street program a success?
PHA and BCBSA will provide funding to each of 10 localities across the country to host four or more Play Street events before October 2013. In addition to the direct funding, PHA and BCBSA will provide communications and marketing support, technical assistance, evaluation and materials to the cities/towns to help ensure the local events are a success. Local Blue Plans will provide collaboration and program support for these events as well as onsite activation.
Looking for specific information about planning and implementing Play Streets event in your neighborhood? Email us your questions and our team will provide an answer on this page.
Additionally, our friends at the Open Streets Project have collected resources from cities across the country that have already opened their streets for physical activity. Check them out here: