York's Playful Sidewalks
Eat Play Breathe York / YMCA of York and York County York, PA
Playful Sidewalks, a collaborative initiative, provides kids with play opportunities throughout the day in areas they regularly frequent. They're located along walking routes and include 2 elements: sidewalk murals and playful bus shelters. The murals encourage kids and their "grown-ups" to hop, balance and enjoy physical play. They serve to beautify the city, connect art with the community and trigger creative thinking. The murals are designed by students, implemented by volunteers and maintained by Public Works. Playful bus shelters include elements such as games, musical instruments and swings providing physical, social and creative play options for those using mass transit. The shelters are designed and implemented by a collaboration of artists, businesses, transit, nonprofits and community members.
By adding play elements to everyday routes, we change spaces into PLAYces. The murals are convenient and inviting, encouraging ALL kids to play along the way. The collaborative efforts of the murals creates a deep sense of unity, ownership and pride. Because the murals are on public sidewalks, shared play opportunities abound, creating increased chances for laughter, meeting new friends and strengthening relationships. As a Playful City USA, we annually renovate playgrounds so that all kids have equal opportunities to play. Despite the fact that we have 24 city parks and many shared-use playgrounds, many kids still don't get to play due to home life challenges. By adding play elements along routes to schools, health clinics, food stores, and other frequently visited locations, kids have an increased opportunity to have fun and be social.
Our city-wide initiative is transforming our community, improving the mental, social and physical health of our children and families. In 2015, we piloted 8 murals, with great success. The Eat Play Breathe York collaboration will implement additional murals in 2016 and will pilot a minimum of 1 Playful Bus Shelters. Students throughout the county are encouraged to submit mural designs, with those chosen receiving a small stipend for their original artwork. Volunteers help implement the designs. Additional volunteers help touch up the murals each year on the United Way Day of Action, making this process sustainable. If awarded KaBOOM! grant dollars, we will also commission local artists to design and install 10 spectacular murals that encourage creativity, active play and a sense of wonder.