We chatted with Keshia M. Pollack Porter and M. Renée Umstattd Meyer, the authors of a new guide to implementing Play Streets in rural communities, about why Play Streets are so important and how advocates and decision-makers can support them across the country.
We know how important physical activity is for our health—especially for children. It builds strong bones and muscles, reduces the risk of obesity and even improves academic performance. But in rural communities—where there may be fewer resources, sidewalks, playgrounds, and parks—there often are fewer opportunities for kids to engage in the kind of physical activity that keeps them healthy and happy.
That’s why, in many rural communities across America, streets, parking lots, school grounds, and open fields are being temporarily taken over by bounce houses, hula hoops, and other active games. When communities come together to host Play Streets in these spaces, they provide a way for children and their families to engage in safe physical activity—something that’s especially important for under-resourced communities that lack safe parks and playgrounds, or that have spaces that are not being utilized for play.