Philadelphia expands PlayStreets program

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Philadelphia just got a little more super. 

City officials recently announced the expansion of the city’s PlayStreets program, designating 50 “Super Streets” that will receive daily programming that includes dance parties, educational activities and play landscapes, allowing kids to have fun this summer while safely social distancing. 

The expansion builds on an already-prominent tradition in the City of Brotherly Love. The PlayStreets program has been a staple in Philadelphia for decades. The program shuts down city streets to traffic, allowing local children to enjoy free, nutritious meals and fun summer activities. Currently, there are 310 locations throughout the city. 

This summer, Mural Arts Philadelphia will add some Philly flare to the new Super Streets locations, with temporary chalk murals through its Murals on the Move program. Also, an additional 10 streets will be included in the PlayStreets of Wonder initiative, which embraces learning and literacy. 

“This summer, COVID-19 has dramatically limited the recreational opportunities available to Philly youth, so Parks and Rec is bringing fun and joy right to their doorstep,” said Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “PlayStreets is a wonderful Philadelphia tradition, powered by hundreds of amazing community volunteers. Year in and year out these unsung heroes make summer a time of fun and joy. 

“This summer will be no different, providing hundreds of thousands of children with free summer meals,” she added. “We are thrilled to be partnering with so many amazing local organizations to innovate this program and give Philadelphia children a summer to remember.”  

Kids can enjoy special PlayStreets giveaways throughout the summer including sports and arts kits, clay pottery kids, play packs and books. There’s also new, socially-distanced planned play areas featuring customized structures like seesaws available and of course, free, nutritious meals and snacks. 

“Healthy activity doesn’t get any more organic than kids playing together on their block. It’s where communities are built,” said Shaun Elliott, President and CEO of Greater Philadelphia YMCA. “After months of dealing with the current crisis, we know kids are eager to enjoy fresh air, exercise, and togetherness—and we’re eager to support them.”

Playstreets is volunteer-based and community-centered. It’s made possible through partnerships with the Greater Philadelphia YMCA, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the William Penn Foundation and the van Ameringen Foundation. 

“The PlayStreets program is a testament to the power of residents who advocate for their blocks and communities, year after year, for critical services through the summer months. It’s because of their voice and their leadership that our streets and public spaces can be more equitable, inclusive, and safe for all Philadelphians,” said Ellen Hwang, Knight Foundation Philadelphia program director. 

“We’re proud to support the City of Philadelphia’s innovative plans, which will be catalytic in making our streets more resident-centered and engaging places that bring community together — especially through the challenging and difficult times we’re facing.”

PlayStreets is open now through the end of August on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meals are served on a first-come-first-serve basis and no registration is required. PlayStreets summer meal sites are available at phila.gov/food.

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