Play Streets with Strategic Alliance for Health (SaFH)

A Good Idea


Dense urban centers such as New York lack open play space and this hinders efforts to increase regular physical activity among children. The collaboration between Harvest Home Farmer’s Markets and Transportation Alternatives resulted a program that could become a model for fighting obesity in low-income neighborhoods short on park space and healthy eating options.

The idea behind Play Streets is just that – streets where youth can play and socialize. They occur on local streets officially closed to traffic for specific hours on a weekly basis (e.g., Fridays from 10 am – 2 pm). Activities range from highly structured to informal depending on the community’s needs and resources. Play Streets combined with farmer’s markets turns unused street space already under a closure permit into a safe and inviting place where kids can play outside and socialize with other children in the neighborhood.

Play Streets at farmer’s markets promotes physical activity and healthy eating, two important strategies to reduce obesity. Moreover, young families are attracted to these events because children can play while parents shop for fresh produce. The neighborhoods East Harlem and the South Bronx in New York began Play Streets and farmer’s markets in the summer of 2010. In these neighborhoods, more than a third of residents live below the poverty line and more than 40 percent of primary school children are overweight or obese.

Goal / Mission

To promote physical activity and healthy eating in resource-poor neighborhoods.

Results / Accomplishments

The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) evaluated the physical and social impacts of the two Play Streets. The evaluation found that more than 1,200 children and teenagers came out for days of Play Streets. A smaller survey administered to parents and children over 10 indicated that without the Play Streets, many would have spent that time watching TV, playing videogames or otherwise engaging in sedentary activity.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Transportation Alternatives
127 West 26th Street, Suite 1002
New York, NY 1000114
(212) 629-8080
Health / Exercise, Nutrition, & Weight
Transportation Alternatives and Harvest Home Farmer’s Markets
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date of publication
Date of implementation
Jun 2010
Geographic Type
East Harlem and South Bronx, NY
For more details
Target Audience
Children, Families, Racial/Ethnic Minorities
Additional Audience
low-income families

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