Want to get from the Strong Museum of Play to the Central Library or take in the gorgeous vistas of the Genesee River Downtown? You could drive. Or, you could play your way there! Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren was joined by youth and community members Oct. 24 to cut a ribbon on the Play Walk, a new, playful sidewalk trail along Chestnut and Court Streets between the Strong Museum and the Central Library.
“The Play Walk is a first-of-its-kind project that grew from the community, for the benefit of the community,” Mayor Warren said. “I am so proud of the youth design team who designed the walk. Innovations like the Play Walk set Rochester apart and create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods, which ultimately lead to better educational opportunities.”
The Play Walk features permanently installed large format games and activities such as a distortion mirror, foosball and a four-in-a-row game and musical instruments such as keyboards, marimbas and chimes. Yellow and blue sidewalk dots and cubes mark the trail, which features murals and playful upcycled newspaper boxes that offer a place for free book sharing.
“With the Play Walk, we’re not only ’ROCKing the Riverway,’ we’re ‘PLAYing the Riverway,” Mayor Warren continued. “Play Walk is one of the many exciting initiatives underway embracing our Mighty Genesee, which fueled our past and will now fuel our future.”
The idea for Play Walk came from a community brainstorming session and a youth survey conducted by Healthi Kids, an initiative of Common Ground Health. It is funded by a Play Everywhere grant from KaBOOM! and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield with in-kind support from the City of Rochester and the Rochester Public Library.
“Play is critical for the health and development of all children’s minds and bodies,” said Jenn Beideman, advocacy manager for Common Ground Health. “Places like the play walk allow for every day spaces to be turned into moments of wonder and learning for any kid or family can enjoy at any time. By connecting kid-friendly locations through vibrant outdoor spaces, Rochester is leading the way in kid-friendly environments and play."
A youth design team from the Central Library worked with local artist Shawn Dunwoody and landscape artist Sue Steele to design the play walk, alongside a planning committee of community partners. Members of the youth team include: Diamonte Higgins, Dakota Nesbitt, Jeniffer Wilson, Joseph, Dayshaun Coleman, Greg Reeves, Javon Vasquez, Nakei Bradslaw, Sofia Abdulla, Bre and Zion.
Other partners include the Rochester Public Library, the Strong Museum of Play, the Friends and Foundation of the Rochester Public Library, area neighborhood coalitions and businesses and members of the Healthi Kids coalition.
For more information on Play Walk, visit: www.healthikids.org/playwalk.
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