Fund for Public Health in New York, Inc.
New York, NY
Bronx Steps 2 Health: Pathway of Play
Bronx Steps 2 Health seeks to activate the South Bronx's "step streets" with colorful public art and interactive community programming that invites play, promotes physical activity, and sparks social interaction.
Step streets are open-air, mid-block staircases that create shortcuts across the hilly topography of the Bronx. Every day, thousands of low-income families visit these step streets, climbing up and down stairs in order to access nearby public transportation stops, schools, shops, parks, and playgrounds. This pedestrian infrastructure is highly visible, widely used, and ripe for design intervention -- particularly given the neighborhood's staggering health disparities and lack of recreational resources.
Combining public health, public space, and creative placemaking, Bronx Steps 2 Health will invite local artists and nonprofits to submit ideas for activating up to three step street sites. An inclusive, community-informed process will feature an open call for proposals, multigenerational design workshop, and robust civic engagement to generate excitement and secure buy-in.
Site-specific design and programming may include large-scale murals; culturally relevant, kid-friendly dance and musical performances; and outdoor games, like giant checkers or Jenga sets. These interventions will celebrate the geometry of the stairs, gamifying the user experience and fostering intergenerational interaction. Colorful signage will invite activity and promote photosharing via social media.
Step streets are unique to this section of New York City. Bronx Steps 2 Health celebrates this asset, encouraging community residents and inspiring city leaders to reimagine step streets as an artistic canvas, a cultural venue and, of course, a "corner store for play."
- Kathryn Waller