ROCHESTER, N.Y., September 28, 2017

 More than 100 children, volunteers, partners and community organizers joined the Healthi Kids Coalition last night to celebrate its successful PlayROCs initiative, dedicated to making Rochester a more playful city. The celebration, hosted at the Strong Museum of Play, recognized the hard work and support of community members in creating safe and accessible play spaces throughout Rochester.

“Our volunteers, neighbors and youth champions have worked diligently to provide kids with fun, safe and convenient places to play, and we wanted to thank them for the incredible job they do,” said Jenn Beideman, Policy & Research Associate at Common Ground Health. “In the past two years, this community of supporters has helped Rochester become a more playable city, and that deserves to be celebrated. With the dedication of everyone who has been a part of PlayROCs campaign, we continue to raise awareness for the importance of safe and accessible play spaces for every child across the city.”

The celebration event featured playful activities for guests and a performance by the Strings For Life Music Project. The Healthi Kids team also shared a few awards to recognize some of the work done across the community. Six awards were presented, including:

  • Speak Out Youth Voice Award, for Cameron Community Ministries After School Program.
  • Innovative Play Award, for the 8th Grade Class at School #58.
  • Speak Out Class Award, for the 6th Grade Class at Genesee Community Charter School.
  • Most Playable Project, for the Phillis Wheatley Community Library Story Walk.
  • PlayROCs Playability Champion Award(s), for the FLRT Block Club and Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition
  • Volunteer Extraordinaire, for Youth Champion Assata Evans

“The Play ROCs campaign was created in response to parents sharing with Healthi Kids that their children’s right to play was at stake. said Dina Faticone, Director of Community Health and Engagement. “We know barriers continue to persist that deter parents from allowing their children to play outdoors and we will continue to advocate for play in our city. The community support of the PlayROCs campaign demonstrates that by working together, community members can reclaim, repurpose and revitalize space to overcome barriers and bring play back to their neighborhoods.”

Since 2015, PlayROCs has worked alongside residents to activate every day spaces for play and advocate for city-wide change. These efforts have led Rochester to be recognized as a Playful City USA for the last two years in a row. The events and advocate work that helped Rochester achieve this designation include:

  • Coordinating an annual city-wide play day – PlayROCs your Neighborhood, a community-driven day of over 20 pop up play spaces to raise awareness of the need for safer places to play;
  • Establishing a city-wide playful sidewalk policy;
  • Piloting a successful colorful crosswalk pilot around Schools #2 and #19;
  • Working alongside partners in the South West quadrant to develop the Story Walk at Phillis Wheatley Library
  • Advocating for playful elements to be installed on Main St. and in the Inner Loop development project;
  • Hosting a number of play days including: Snow Much Fun, a takeover of MLK park at Manhattan square; and Park(ing) day, an international day that reclaims underutilized spaces;
  • Supporting the children at the Cameron Community Ministries after school program in their Peace Walk, an annual walk to call for safer places to play in the Lyell-Otis neighborhood.
  • The Play Streets pilot program, which turned streets in two neighborhoods into safe play areas for children to enjoy the closing weeks of summer
  • Submitting over 624 postcards to City Council with resident ideas on how to make their neighborhoods safer for kids to play

To learn more about Healthi Kids Play ROCs campaign to turn Rochester into a kid-friendly city where all kids can walk, bike and play in their neighborhood, visit