Fewer than 15 percent of kids in Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes are active an hour or more a day, the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So for the second consecutive summer, local organizations teamed to provide a space for children and families to play, contribute to children’s physical and social-emotional development and support community development.
Play Streets is a community-driven program that emphasizes the importance of play. The event was hosted by Healthi Kids Coalition and Ibero-American Development Corp., and was coordinated by FLRT Block Club and Beechwood Neighbors Association.
Residents at Treyer Street and Greeley Street hosted Play Streets throughout August. Both neighborhoods were shut down for a few hours a day and featured active games, dancing, art, summer meals, skateboarding demonstrations, playful sidewalk painting and more.
“One of the biggest obstacles Rochester children face when playing is safety hazards, whether it be from traffic, distracted drivers or other unsafe activities,” said Joe DiFiore of the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition. “Thanks to the Healthi Kids Coalition and its amazing collaboration with city residents, we’re able to overcome these obstacles and give our kids the chance to get outside and play. To see these kids smile and have fun is all the proof we need to know we’re making a difference.”
A 2017 report from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and Rochester Area Community Foundation noted that interviews with neighbors have indicated that a lack of neighborhood and traffic safety are key barriers to play. Healthi Kids’ early studies on playability indicated that 97 percent of play spaces do not have traffic calming features such as speed bumps, traffic lights or signage.
“A lot still needs to happen here in Rochester to give our children access to safe play spaces, but if our work in the community has taught us anything, it’s that residents are ready to work together and make it happen,” said Dina Faticone, director of community health and engagement at Common Ground Health. “Because of the efforts of the FLRT Block Club and Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition, we are currently working alongside the City of Rochester to expand this Play Streets pilot across the city to ensure all kids have opportunities to play right in their own neighborhood.”
Funding for the Play Streets pilot was made possible by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation and the Wilson Foundation “El Camino Plays” grant.