Over the next year in 10 cities across America, kids are going to occupy “the streets” through a new Play Streets initiative sponsored by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and the Partnership for a Healthier America. Kids will be able to participate in closed streets events designed to promote health and wellness activities--all in the spirit of getting outside and increasing their physical activity.
Earlier this year the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to end the childhood obesity epidemic in America, and BCBSA announced the Play Streets initiative and on Nov. 14, the final winning cities were revealed:
1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
2. Savannah, Georgia
3. Durham, North Carolina
4. Buffalo, New York
5. New Orleans, Louisiana
6. Omaha, Nebraska
7. York, Pennsylvania
8. San Francisco, California
9. Chicago, Illinois
10. Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Each city will host at least four Play Streets events in 2013 by closing designated roads to traffic and opening them up to the community as a place to play.
The ten winning cities will receive funds, technical assistance, and communications and marketing support from PHA, BCBSA, and the local Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to create Play Streets events in their communities. The Play Streets program is flexible, allowing each winning city to tailor the program to its needs and resources. The winners were chosen based on their ongoing commitment to increasing physical activity among kids, health education and programming, sustainability of the program, and community development. They proposed a range of creative ideas for bringing the concept to life from temporary skate parks to synthetic ice skating rinks to live music and dance to including farmers markets to bike fittings, rentals and lessons, and even something called “Pumpkin Dodge Ball.”
“One area of specific focus for all Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies is the health and wellness of children and reversing the trend of childhood obesity,” said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA president and CEO. “We are looking forward to this collaborative effort and working alongside PHA, the winning cities, the local Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies, and community leaders to help create safe, open outdoor spaces and events to encourage activity.”