Healthi Kids Coalition of the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency was recently selected as a winner in the Play Everywhere Challenge — a $1 million national competition that awards ideas to make play easy, available and fun for kids and families in cities across the U.S.

The award will be used to create an interactive story walk and program at Phillis Wheatley Community Library, 33 Drive Samuel McCree Way, Rochester. Healthi Kids’ will receive $10,000 on March 1, 2017, for the project and will partner with the Rochester Public Library and city of Rochester to complete the infrastructure component of the project by May 31, 2017.
 
The walk at Phillis Wheatley Community Library will include stations to display an active story with sidewalks to allow children and families to play along the way. Children at the library will participate in a program to write the first story and create interactive sidewalk art for the walk.

The Phillis Wheatley Community Library Storybook Walk was selected as one of 50 winners from 26 states and out of over 1,000 applications nationwide.
 
“The Phillis Wheatley Library Project is a step towards realizing a vision for and by our community to bring play back to the lives of our children in the city of Rochester,” said Dina Faticone, Healthi Kids director. “For too long, our kids have been missing out on an essential part of childhood that sets the stage for their physical health and social development for the rest of their lives. The time to change that is now.”

The challenge is hosted by KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play to all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America. The challenge was developed in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Target, Playworld, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 
 
The Healthi Kids Coalition Play ROCs campaign aims to build a culture of play in Rochester by advocating for safer, more accessible places to play at schools and in neighborhoods.

Research shows play is vital to the physical, social and emotional development of children; contributes to healthy brain development and strong muscles; and encourages problem solving, conflict resolution and creativity.

Studies by the Healthi Kids’ Coalition demonstrate the lack of safe places to play, traffic safety and unkempt playgrounds deter parents from allowing their children to play outdoors.

The Storywalk at Phillis Wheatley Community Library will create opportunities for play to happen where children frequent.