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Feature Stories

Streets closed so kids can play

Promoting Kids Play

A new idea is taking hold across the country. During warmer months in 10 U.S. cities, a 2013 Blue Cross-backed program called "Play Streets" will let kids romp in streets closed for a while to traffic. "Play Streets" ran in Chicago and elsewhere in 2012 amid positive reviews.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois teamed with the Chicago Department of Public Health last year. Activities for children included obstacle courses, jumping castles, basketball, and dancing. Meanwhile, neighborhood families got to know each other.

In 2013, the effort is expanding. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (licensor of the 38 Independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans) is taking part, as are the Active Transportation Alliance, the Local Initiatives Support Corp. in Chicago, World Sport Chicago, and the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA).

Says PHA President and CEO Lawrence A. Soler, "Today in America, one in five kids doesn't have access to a playground. That's millions of children who can't pick up a ball, run outside, or have fun in a safe environment. We can't wait to see the national initiative in action in 2013 – to hear sounds of traffic replaced by sounds of kids at play."

So far, cities besides Chicago participating in "Play Streets" are Minneapolis, Minn.; Savannah, Ga.; Durham, N.C.; York, Pa.; San Francisco, Calif.; Buffalo, N.Y.; New Orleans, La.; Omaha, Neb., and Caguas, Puerto Rico. Go to bcbs.com for more.