(Wednesday, May 5, 2021) – Officials from the City of Rochester and the Healthi Kids Coalition were joined by teens and community members today to cut the ribbon on the newest addition to the City’s Play Walk sidewalk trail. “The Ripple” is an interactive attraction featuring constantly changing colors and pixelated illustrations, leading children and youth into Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The new extension of the Play Walk will become an iconic landmark for the sidewalk trail along Chestnut and Court Streets between the Strong Museum and the Central Library.

“With this exciting addition to the Play Walk, we are further realizing our vision of making Rochester a more playable city, which will improve our children’s health, promote more vibrant neighborhoods and foster economic development,” Mayor Warren said. “This project shows what we can accomplish when the Downtown neighborhood, businesses, nonprofits, young people and City government come together.”

Inspired by the flowing motion of the Genesee River, The Ripple is composed of a series of panels based on the unique shape of a lilac flower. People can rotate the panels to reveal different pixelated illustrations, and the panels constantly change and adapt to whomever is using it. Two sides of the units are a dichroic film that reflects and refracts light – changing colors based on the way light hits them – while the colors of the other two sides remain constant.

The Ripple is the result of a partnership between the City, Common Ground Health’s Healthi Kids initiative and The Urban Conga, which designed the extension based on input from city residents and teens at the Teen Center at Central Library about what attractions they wanted at Play Walk. 

“Research shows that play is vital to the health of our children and of our community, but, as our PlayROCs advocacy team and national experts have stated, play is all the more critical to mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic’s traumatic impact on our children,” said Jenn Beideman, advocacy manager for Common Ground Health. “By extending and enhancing Play Walk, we are giving children yet another reason to get out and play along this fun, innovative downtown trail.”

Jeny Wilson a member of Play Walk’s teen design team said, “The Ripple was developed by city teens for the benefit of our community. It is exciting to see our vision of what we wanted to see at Play Walk become a reality.”

The Ripple is funded by a grant from KaBOOM! and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. They provided a Play Everywhere grant in 2018 to fund Play Walk, along with Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, with in-kind support from the City of Rochester and the Rochester Public Library.

About Play Walk

Play Walk, a downtown trail that lets children play along the way, features permanently installed large-format games and activities, such as a distortion mirror, foosball and a four-in-a-row game and musical instruments. For more information on Play Walk, visit: https://www.healthikids.org/playwalk

About The Urban Conga

The Urban Conga, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., is an international award-winning multidisciplinary design studio focused on promoting community activity and social interaction through open-ended play. It designs, fabricates and installs interactive installations, custom playable products and immersive environments that spark creativity, exploration and free-choice learning into the built environment.

About Healthi Kids

Healthi Kids is an initiative of Common Ground Health. Our Coalition advocates for policies, systems and environmental changes that support whole child health in children 0-8 in the Greater Rochester and Finger Lakes Region of New York. We believe in the power of youth and resident voice to co-create solutions, influence decision makers and transform systems that support healthy development for all kids.