Mayor Lee Announces San Francisco’s first Play Streets Events

Partnership for a Healthier America and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association support new initiative to combat childhood obesity by creating spaces for kids to run and play

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and the city of San Francisco are pleased to announce the inaugural event of San Francisco’s Play Streets for All program – aka Play Streets – is a spin-off of the City’s popular Sunday Streets program. The first of four Play Streets events will take place Saturday, July 13, 2013 from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM on Buchanan Street between Turk and Eddy, and Larch Street in the Plaza East Housing complex in the Western Addition. Like all Play Streets events, the lead organizers are members of the host community- with this event in the Western Addition led by the Plaza East Tenants Association.

Play Streets for All 2013 events are being organized in four San Francisco neighborhoods: Western Addition, Bayview, Excelsior and Tenderloin. This program is made possible by support from Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross, with additional support from The San Francisco Foundation, District Attorney George Gascon’s Neighborhood Justice Fund, The Seed Foundation, SF Department of Public Health and in-kind support from San Francisco Recreation and Park’s Mobile Rec program.

The goal of San Francisco’s Play Streets program is to teach local stakeholders how to organize their own small-scale Sunday Streets style programs so neighborhoods can organize events on their own- exponentially increasing the opportunities and benefits these kinds of programs bring to the community.

“San Francisco is committed to making healthy lifestyles a reality for people in every community, so this summer we’re introducing a program that creates space for kids to play on their own neighborhood streets. Play Streets for All leverages our innovative Sunday Streets program to help create safe, fun recreational spaces on our City’s streets. We are grateful for the support from Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, and the Partnership for a Healthier America, which in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move!’ campaign, have been key partners in our efforts to expand safe, fun places for kids to play in San Francisco.” says San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee.

Supervisor London Breed, who represents the Western Addition, will join local and city leaders to kick off the Play Streets program this Saturday. “I am so excited that Play Streets for All chose Plaza East Apartments in the Western Addition to host their first event in San Francisco. This is an exciting new model that promotes a safe and healthy environment for our kids to play outdoors in our streets. All children in San Francisco need a safe place to play outdoors each and every day especially during the summer.  This is an important health issue and if we want our children to grow with strong minds and bodies then we need to create safe spaces for that growth to occur. Health, safety, and fun is what Play Streets is about and why I am so honored to not just be a part of it but to have it take place in an area of our City where I spent my entire childhood enjoying the outdoors,” states Supervisor Breed.

“We are thrilled to work with an organization who also promotes community health,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “Play Streets gives children living in congested areas of the city a safe place to get out and play and experience Mobile Rec programs and activities in their own neighborhoods. This event effectively extends our public parks into areas devoid of play space, and it is truly a special opportunity for community members.”

Inspired and started by the Partnership For A Healthier America, and funded by a generous grant from the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association, Play Streets programs are happening in cities across the country to provide new places for kids to play and be active. The goal of this initiative is to end the childhood obesity epidemic in America by providing kids safe places to run and play outside in their neighborhoods.

“As a not-for-profit health plan headquartered in San Francisco, we’re committed to helping people in the community live healthier and happier lives. We are excited to work with the City of San Francisco to host Play Streets events to encourage kids to play and be active – an important step on the road to a healthier lifestyle,” says Tom Epstein, vice president of public affairs at Blue Shield of California.”

“Every aspect of health is important to us, and that includes the health of the families and communities we serve.  Anthem Blue Cross is excited to work with Mayor Lee and the City of San Francisco on Play Streets to encourage kids to get outside and play. We hope this program can help families establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime, “ said Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross.

San Francisco’s Play Streets program is led by Sunday Streets and the City of San Francisco. Sunday Streets is presented by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and local advocacy organization Livable City, the non-profit partner managing the day-to-day operations of both Sunday Streets and Play Streets.

The impact on activity rates from Play Streets is expected to be significant. Play Streets programs in other areas have already shown that when given the choice between participating in Play Streets or a sedentary activity such as playing video games or watching television, the majority of children chose the more active option of Play Streets. The benefits went beyond children’s health, too. Local merchants benefit from increased foot traffic that this program brings to the businesses in the area.

San Francisco Play Streets 2013 schedule:

  • July 13, 2013: Western Addition, Buchanan between Eddy and Turk
  • July 20, 2013: Bayview, Oakdale between 3rd and Lane, by the Bayview Opera House
  • August 24: Tenderloin, Ellis Street
  • September 7: Excelsior, Paris between Avalon and Excelsior

For more information go to: www.SundayStreetsSF.com, www.SFMTA.gov, National Play Streets information can be found online at www.ahealthieramerica.org/playstreets

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