ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A collaboration among the Healthi Kids Coalition, the City of Rochester and city residents are helping promote play for children.

Jenn Beideman of the Healthi Kids Coalition, Sara Scott from the City of Rochester Department of Recreation and Youth Services, and Treyer Street resident Evette Colon discussed the initiative Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“Play is not trivial,” said Beideman. “It is critical to whole-child health and development. So we know that kids who play every day are healthier, they do better at school. It contributes to their physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive development. We know it teaches children the important building blocks for life. And on the flip side, we also know that play is good for cities and for relationship building.”

The City of Rochester is helping remove potential barriers to play. “The focus of the Department of Recreation and Youth Services is around play, healthy play,” Scott said. “We’ve partnered a lot with Common Ground Health and Healthi Kids Coalition. Through the 10 minute walk to parks, the Mayor signed on to the initiative that all youth should live within a 10-minute walk to a park, a green space where they can play and engage in their community, and build those relationships that Jenn is talking about. We’re furthering that by being part of the Play Streets Roc initiative. So through a grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation, now, the Department of Recreation is really able to support the sort of homegrown, grassroots initiative that started with Healthi Kids and the communities and neighbors that are already doing this work – so supporting it through city resources, funding to support some of the food and other items that are going to be used for these events.”

City residents like Colon are leading the way when it comes to creating play opportunities for children. “We are with Healthi Kids and we do street play and this will be our third year,” she said. “The city helps us get barricades so kids are safe at play. I have a garden across from my house. It’s three lots. We use Treyer Street and the garden for active play. We do Zumba. We do crafts. We listen to music. Lunch is provided. They do arts and crafts. And it’s not only the children playing, it’s adults and children, and we enjoy it very much. And we enjoy them more when we see them smiling.”

Play Streets is creating opportunities for children on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through the end of the month. “We’re working alongside Evette and other neighbors across the city and the City of Rochester to shut down streets across the city for play streets,” explained Beideman. “And so I would encourage anybody, if you’re interested in participating in Play Streets, or learning how you can reclaim your neighborhood for unstructured play again, like we all did when we were growing up, to reach out and contact us, because we are looking to expand this initiative across the city.”

Visit the Healthi Kids website for more information.