Go Play in the Street! Sure, Says Transit Group, Proposing ‘Play Streets’

3428625 Go Play in the Street! Sure, Says Transit Group, Proposing Play StreetsStickball, skully and hopscotch used to be as common on New York’s streets as cars. These days, vehicles have totally taken over, but transportation advocates are fighting back to carve out space for kids.

Transportation Alternatives is putting out another call for neighborhoods to apply to make their street a “Play Street,” where communities can close off blocks of New York to traffic. This allows children a safe environment to play in while tackling the childhood obesity problem.

The program is administered by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, with TA and the Strategic Alliance for Health offering assistance to those who wish to go through the Play Street application process. The deadline for submitting an application to the Department of Health is February 21.

Last summer, 15 streets participated in the program, and Transportation Alternatives has written to the Mayor asking him to commit to raising this number to 66 by the year 2030. The proposal could actually help the Mayor in his quest to reach the goal of having every New York child live within a ten minute walk of the nearest playground, which has lead him to extend the opening hours of school playgrounds.

“Play Street was a great way to get them active in the community,” Ciara Ginyard of the East Harlem Tutorial Program said if her kids. “It involved community organizations that facilitated types of activities that our participants aren’t normally exposed to, like karate and yoga.”

“Our city’s streets offered kids of all ages endless opportunities for active play,” said TA executive director Paul Steeley White of times gone by.

It remains unknown yet whether today’s children will be searched for iPod’s and Nintendo DSes, upon entering a designated Play Street.

sduffy@observer.com