About Play Streets
On July 18, 2012, PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama announced an incredible opportunity to turn our nation’s streets into play spaces and bring physical activity back into the lives of children across the country. Between 2012 and 2013, thanks to the support of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, 47 Play Streets events were held in 10 cities across the United States. These events not only provided nearly 70,000 individuals with a safe place to come together and move, but also spread the word about Play Streets, reaching more than 65 million through traditional and digital media.
Click the first tab below for more information about the cities and local Blues® that are responsible for making the 2013 Play Streets program a success.
Not sure what the Play Streets program is all about? Click on the second tab to learn the basics and to find out how similar events could benefit your community!
Our Play Streets Partners
Click on a location for information on partners in that area
Buffalo, New York
City of Buffalo
The City of Buffalo recognizes the threat of childhood obesity and is working with community businesses, organizations and individuals to create a culture and environment that fosters physical activity and an overall healthy lifestyle. Buffalo’s sole cycling advocacy organization, GO Bike Buffalo has served as a valuable partner, helping to bring Buffalo residents additional opportunities to get active as a family. GO Bike Buffalo has developed multiple initiatives that aim to increase bicycle ridership throughout the city, and help make cycling easily fit into residents’ daily lives. In hopes of increasing the enthusiasm for physical activity in the long term, GO Bike Buffalo will continue to coordinate with the City of Buffalo and its other partners to continue the Play Streets program in future years.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Western New York
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is a division of HealthNow New York Inc., one of New York’s leading health care companies that provides access to quality health care and solutions for members throughout Upstate New York. Since 1936, BlueCross BlueShield has helped millions of people gain access to health care. Today, we offer a full range of insured, self-insured, and government programs and services covering businesses, families, and individuals, as well as life and disability coverage, dental and vision plans and stop-loss coverage. The company contributes significantly to organizations that promote physical health, community health and our region’s health, and BlueCross BlueShield employees also raise and donate several hundred thousand dollars each year. Headquartered in Buffalo, NY, the company is an independent Licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association.
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Autonomous Municipality of Caguas (MAC)
The Autonomous Municipality of Caguas has been locally, nationally and internationally recognized as an innovative and successful model of local public administration and is committed to making the city healthier and more livable through a comprehensive renovation of the urban environment. Through the Play Streets program, the MAC will have the opportunity to expand and extend its successful CicloRuta Vida Activa Y Saludable (Active and Healthy Living Bicycle Route).
Triple-S Salud Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Puerto Rico
Guided by the vision and good intentions of our founders and inspired by the willingness to improve the health services of our community. Triple-S Salud is leaving a trace in Puerto Rico striving to provide and promote innovation in the access to medical excellence while controlling costs. At Triple-S Salud, we have the commitment to help our community in the prevention of illness and promotion of wellness. We undertake this obligation with the consent of doctors, dentists and other health professionals. We develop the best health care coverage at the most reasonable costs. We are guided by the highest standards of fiscal responsibility towards our providers, subscribers and employees as well as the fundamentals of excellence in medicine practice that our community deserves.
City of Chicago
Chicago has used Play Streets as a tool to combat childhood obesity and engage residents in positive outdoor activities since 2008 with its Open Streets Initiative, developed out of a partnership between Active Trans, Local ISC Chicago and WSC. In 2012 this program gained the support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and the Chicago Department of Public Health who helped to design and execute three Play Streets events in different Chicago neighborhoods. The city of Chicago has now teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthier America to take the program to the next level, and launch four additional Play Street events in a diverse set of communities from January 2012 to October 2013.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is the largest and most experienced health insurance company in Illinois, providing more than 7 million members with comprehensive and affordable health plans. As a division of Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois provides its members with a high level of confidence and security. We are proud to be a technologically innovative, efficient and responsive health insurance company. That is why we are pleased to offer Blue Access for MembersSM, which provides our members and their dependents with secure online access to benefits summaries, claim status, provider information and valuable health tips. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is committed to the highest standards of business ethics and integrity, and we are committed to fulfilling our corporate citizenship responsibilities to the communities we serve.
Durham, North Carolina
City of Durham
Over the past three years Durham has steadily been working to incorporate physical activity into the community culture through its program, “Bull City Open Streets.” While a fantastic start, Durham wants to progress even further, and believes that the Play Streets program will help them do just that. This initiative will help transform the streets of Durham, increase neighborhood awareness and acceptability of bicycling and walking as safe and fun modes of travel, and will also engage Durham businesses to support this increasingly active culture. In the long term, Durham hopes to make Play Streets a regular part of civic life throughout the community.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.6 million members, including approximately 900,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 78 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute in 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
City of Minneapolis
Ranked as one of the best biking cities in the country, with 81 miles of on-street bikeways and 85 miles of off-street bikeways, Minneapolis is a national leader in physical activity. In addition, Minneapolis has already introduced their community to the Play Streets concept through their 2011 and 2012 Open Streets events, both of which were great successes. The community is looking forward to building on the past enthusiasm to generate even more excitement around the Play Streets program. Minneapolis hopes to help the residents see the city streets as a place for children and adults to enjoy themselves, get exercise and interact socially rather than simply as a vehicle for transportation.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.
New Orleans, Louisiana
City of New Orleans
In recent years, the New Orleans community has expanded their efforts to develop policies and community programming aimed at promoting physical activity and proper nutrition. They have demonstrated their dedication to this mission through the steady improvements in the infrastructure of parks, playgrounds and pools to make them more conducive to physical activity. In addition, with the recent launch of the Fit NOLA Partnership, which involves more than 100 organizations, New Orleans hopes to raise awareness, build capacity and set standards on nutritional and physical fitness. The Play Streets Program will help to move New Orleans forward in their efforts and expand the movement to create a healthier environment for all residents.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is the oldest and largest Louisiana-based health insurance company. Blue Cross is a private, fully taxed mutual company, owned by policyholders—not shareholders—and governed by a local Board of Directors. It is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The company and its subsidiaries provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to more than one out of every four Louisiana residents. With headquarters in Baton Rouge and eight district offices, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana employs nearly 2,000 Louisianians who are committed to improving the lives of its customers by providing them with health guidance and affordable access to quality care.
City of Omaha
Throughout Mayor Jim Suttle’s administration, the city of Omaha has prioritized the wellness of its residents. Through the cross sector public/private coalition, LiveWell Omaha, they have diagnosed the issues they must address in order to integrate health into citizens’ daily lives, and have started by providing easier access to health resources. In addition, with the support of a CDC Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant, Omaha launched their successful Movin’ After School program, which has coordinated five free, family oriented events to get kids moving and helped incorporate healthy foods and exercise into after school programming through staff training. In addition, Omaha is in the midst of various efforts aimed at building a sustainable active transportation network, and believe that the Play Streets program can help move along that process.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
For over 70 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska has been an important part of Nebraskans’ lives. We are a Nebraska-based company, well-versed in the intricacies of health benefits and proud to provide access to a large network of doctors and competitive discounts to our customers. Everything we do begins with the customer. We are dedicated to serving more than 700,000 customers while honoring our commitments to them.
San Francisco, California
City of San Francisco
In 2008 San Francisco’s Livable City worked with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to launch Sunday Streets, a program that has provided residents with an increased opportunity to engage in physical activity in their own neighborhoods. These events have successfully attracted resident from the throughout the Bay Area, bringing kids and adults safe, free and fun activities that get the entire community up and moving. Over the years, the popularity of Sunday Streets has steadily increased in San Francisco, and through the launch of the Play Streets program the excitement around physical activity in San Francisco will only continue to grow.
Anthem Blue Cross of California
Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. ® ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross name and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/healthjoinin, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthJoinIn, or visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/healthjoinin.
Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan with 3.3 million members and 5,000 employees. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California provides health, life, dental, vision, and Medicare insurance and health care service plans in California, has one of the largest provider networks, and $9.7 billion in annual revenue. In 2012, Blue Shield of California was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. Since 2005, the company has contributed more than $200 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation, one of BusinessWeek’s most generous corporate foundations.
City of Savannah
Savannah is dedicated to providing its 135,000 and 12 million annual visitors with the infrastructure, policies and programs that help them make the healthy choice. The 2007 launch of the public-private initiative, Healthy Savannah, demonstrates this dedication. Healthy Savannah focuses on increasing the number of opportunities residents have to participate in physical activities as well as providing more nutritious options throughout the city. Through this campaign for health, Savannah has incorporated a wide variety of physical activity programs into its civic life and the Play Streets program will help expand and strengthen these efforts.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association®. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BCBSGaPR on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthJoinInBCBSGa, visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/healthjoinin or check out the Our Health Connects Us campaign site at http://connects.bcbsga.com/.
City of York
With the motto “Live, work, play in York,” the City of York understands the importance of providing children with creative, fun and safe opportunities to play. That’s why in 2008, the City of York created the Bring on Play committee, made up of individuals and organizations from the City and the County, who work to improve the opportunities available for kids living in York to get outside and play. They started by focusing on park renovation and as they have grown they have started to host events and spread their message about the importance of physical activity to the York residents. The goals of the Play Streets program aligns perfectly with Yorks’ vision for their community, helping to make physical activity programs safe and accessible for both children and parents.
Capital Blue Cross
Capital BlueCross is a leading health insurer in its region, providing health insurance coverage to residents in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. Capital BlueCross is committed to making health insurance simple for its customers and members through all the stages of life by offering nationally acclaimed customer service and a full range of innovative benefit programs for groups and individuals at competitive prices. By establishing a culture of caring, Capital BlueCross constantly strives to do more in order to deliver more for the men, women and children who depend on the company for their health insurance. The company continues to evolve in order to meet the individual needs of its customers, most recently by entering the retail market and building its first store in the Lehigh Valley called Capital Blue. Capital BlueCross has been providing medical value to the people and communities of central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley for more than 70 years and employs over 1,800 people in the region. Headquartered in Harrisburg, Pa., Capital BlueCross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Highmark Blue Shield
Highmark Blue Shield serves approximately 1 million members through the company’s health care benefits business and employs nearly 4,000 people in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. Highmark Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information about Highmark Blue Shield, visit www.highmark.com
What is a Play Street? How can one benefit my community?
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.
Interested in bringing a Play Street event to your community? Email us at email@example.com for more information.
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 is already available in a community and using it to help kids get active.
How do Play Streets events help the community?
Play Streets program not only help our kids be more active, but they also help bring communities together in a safe, fun space. The Play Streets events supported by BCBSA and PHA, as well as those 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.