Expanded PlayStreets program returns to Philly

Metro File Photo

Summer in the city is here, and PlayStreets—a citywide program that provides youth meal distribution and recreational activities to Philadelphia kids—is back and bigger than ever.

A Philadelphia tradition more than six decades in the making, PlayStreets will offer young people two healthy meals, and a variety of hyper-local recreational opportunities at over 275 residential blocks across the city this year.

Thanks to overwhelming philanthropic and community support, the 2021 PlayStreets program will provide a day camp-like experience to thousands of children on the street they call home. Fifty designated “Super Streets” will receive daily programming, including arts and sports tutorials, pop-up dance parties, visits from Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Mural on the Move Program, and portable play landscapes designed to spark creativity and playful learning. Portable Play Landscapes include customized water misters, seesaws and modular play islands. Super Streets were selected based on geographic diversity and community need.

“We are excited to join Mayor Kenney and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in bringing the expanded PlayStreets program back to our city’s streets,” said Shaun Elliott, President and CEO of Greater Philadelphia YMCA in a statement. “Healthy activity starts with kids eating and playing together on their block. We know kids are eager to enjoy fresh air, exercise, and togetherness—and we’re eager to support them.”

An additional 12 locations will take part in the William Penn Foundation-funded Literacy Enhanced PlayStreets, which focuses on playful learning and literacy. These PlayStreets will receive visits and programming from the Free Library of Philadelphia, Faby Youth Philly and its Play Captains, as well as Mighty Writers and Let’s Go Outdoors. Literacy Enhanced PlayStreets are also supported by the Playful Learning Landscape Action Network and Temple University’s Infant Child Lab.

The PlayStreets program is made possible by local residents who volunteer to serve as Playstreet supervisors. Long-time PlayStreet leaders rally their blocks to host a PlayStreet, opening and closing the street to traffic daily, and giving out meals and play items.

Approximately 100 PlayStreets will receive “Cooling Kits,” which include personalized misting fans, super soakers, branded tents and patio umbrellas, and neck cooling rags. Cooling kits will go to PlayStreets in high poverty, heat vulnerable areas, where keeping cool is a challenge.

All PlayStreets will benefit from the expanded PlayStreets resources, including additional play items, books, family take-home literacy kits, and art supplies.

“The expanded PlayStreets program is a wonderful Philadelphia tradition, powered by hundreds of amazing community volunteers who serve as neighborhood site supervisors,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a statement. “Year in and year out these unsung heroes make summer a time of fun and joy.”

PlayStreets meal program will run each weekday through the end of August. There is no registration required, and meals are served on a first come, first serve basis. PlayStreets summer meal sites are available at phila.gov/food.

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