Excitement filled the air on February 7th as nearly 60 sites across the City of Rochester joined together for the international celebration of play called Global School Play Day.

Organized by Healthi Kids in collaboration with the City of Rochester’s Department of Recreation and Human Services and the Rochester City School District, this event marked a significant milestone in promoting the importance of unstructured play for children's well-being.

From schools to libraries, R-Centers to childcare centers, and neighborhoods alike, the spirit of play was embraced wholeheartedly. The initiative, celebrated in 75 countries worldwide, finally found its way to our city, thanks to the collective effort of educators, childcare workers, resident leaders, and city officials with a passion for supporting our community’s children.

Leading up to the big day, Healthi Kids provided play kits filled with toys and games along with financial support and technical assistance to ensure that each participating site had the resources needed to make the event a success. The aim was simple: to encourage children to engage in free, unstructured play, fostering creativity, social skills, and physical activity. (continued below gallery...)

Global School Play Day was born from the concerns of educators witnessing a decline in unstructured playtime among children. With the rise of standardized testing, increased screen time, and safety concerns, the invaluable benefits of play were at risk. In response, teachers Scott Bedley, Tim Bedley, Bethany Chaffin, Misty Higgins, Eric Saibel, and Oliver Schinkten launched this initiative in 2015, sparking a worldwide movement advocating for the fundamental right of every child to play.

While the play day at schools was reserved for enrolled students, the festivities welcomed everyone at participating R-Centers and public libraries. It was a day filled with laughter, imagination, and boundless energy, reminding us all of the sheer joy found in the simplest of activities.

As we reflect on this wonderful day, let us continue to prioritize play in our children's lives, recognizing its pivotal role in their growth and development. And we invite you to join Healthi Kids in daily championing the power of play for a healthier, happier future for all of our kids.