Imagine City Design that Puts Kids First

Picture swings at your bus stop while you’re waiting with your kids to go to the grocery store. Imagine playful colorful sidewalks that let you and your kids tip toe through tulips or play hopscotch on the walk to school or to your local R-Center. Envision playful sculptures outside of your place of work, outside a neighborhood café, or in your local playgrounds that allow kids (and adults!) to explore, play and have fun. Imagine Rochester as a city that embraces play as not only something that happens at parks and playgrounds, but is part of our everyday lives. Imagine a playable Rochester.

Healthi Kids, a community based advocacy coalition and initiative of Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency envisions just that. Our vision is that Rochester becomes a playable city. A city that adopts ways we can have play everywhere. Our PlayROCs campaign is advocating for safe and accessible play in both schools and neighborhoods to make sure every child in Rochester has the opportunity and access to at least 60 minutes of play every day.

Play is important for kids and adults, but that’s especially true for our kids. Play supports their physical social and emotional development. Kids that play every day of the year do better in school, are more resilient, and are more likely to grow up and become active healthy adults. Not only that, it’s fun! It gives kids an opportunity to just be kids.

Across the country, cities and towns are embracing play and creating vibrant play-based infrastructure in their city design. National studies show that a playable city has many benefits! This type of infrastructure can create healthy places, build community and foster economic development by: promoting physical activity and intergenerational play; supporting neighborhood projects, design, and increasing the usability of public spaces; and by promoting tourism and increasing foot traffic on streets.

This summer Healthi Kids is coordinating a city-wide play day called “PlayROCs in your Neighborhood”. On July 16th, we’re asking neighborhood associations and block clubs across the city to join the movement and host their own free play day to bring attention to the need for safe and accessible play spaces in their neighborhood and to highlight how Play ROCs 365 days of the year.

To host your own play day on July 16 in your neighborhood contact me at or call 585.224.3151. To learn more about #PlayROCs visit

Jenn Beideman is a policy and research associate for the Healthi Kids Coalition at Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency. Contact her at (585) 224-3151, or on Twitter at @JennBeideman

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