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Pop up play areas raise awareness for safe play spaces

A city wide event encouraged residents to make Rochester a more playful place to live.

PlayROCs Your Neighborhood is an annual community-driven and coordinated day of pop up play spaces.

Every location got a starter kit including toys like balls, hula hoops, jump ropes, and pool noodles but volunteers customized the play experience at each space.

Dina Faticone works with Healthi Kids and helps organize the event, she said many kids don’t have access to play areas in their own neighborhoods.

“Crime, safety, traffic safety and unkempt playgrounds were the main barriers to kids going outside and being playful and being active.”

Faticone said the idea came about when they were trying to dig into the root causes of youth obesity in Rochester.

“Our kids don’t have opportunity to be physical right where they live and they’re not getting outside to play like we did when we were kids.”

In a report compiled a few weeks ago by the Aspen Institute, only 12% of Rochester and Finger Lakes area children are getting the recommended one hour of physical activity a day.

Faticone said it’s up to neighborhoods to come together to reclaim their play spaces and recognize that accessible play areas are a quality of life issue.

Organizers also want to focus on the idea of play everywhere, making everyday moments and spaces more open to play rather than at assigned playgrounds.

"Every moment can be turned into a playful moment. So while those parks and play spaces are crucial to creating a playful city and sustaining a playful city, we also recognize that there are other opportunities such as painting playful sidewalks or creating a playful bus stop."

20 sites participated in this years play day. It is the second year of the event, up from 12 sites last year.