On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, PlayStreets Chicago came to Laura S. Ward Elementary School. When reporters from St. Agatha’s News School arrived at the event, kids were playing basketball, jumping rope, and interacting with their peers.
One News School reporter noticed that the children appeared to be having so much fun that the fear of violence, which often strikes these neighborhood communities without warning or respecter of person, was far from their innocent minds. This seemed unusual because kids from Chicago’s West Side are used to being told that they have to stay inside their house because of the violence that often prevents young people from the quality of life they deserve.
Dr. Bush, the school’s principal, explained that PlayStreets Chicago was a first for both her and the school. She was stunned by the large turnout. Bush added, there were no problems because the kids were excited to attend the event.
“PlayStreets Chicago is a citywide initiative to encourage neighborhood organizations and residents to organize a safe area and get the people active and moving,” according to World Sport Chicago’s website.
For a short time, they close off their blocks to cars in the community. The free activities at PlayStreets empower communities to come together and address barriers to active, fun, and healthy enjoyment for children, teens, and families.
The need for a program like PlayStreets Chicago is the best part of many communities that are facing social and environmental barriers such as income-constraints, a higher incidence of violence, and a less-invested community infrastructure.
Children should always be able to go outside to play and have fun in a safe environment. PlayStreets Chicago has had a positive impact on Chicago minority communities by allowing hundreds of people come out to enjoy the heat, cold drinks, and snacks. They seek to keep kids out of trouble and off the streets.
Since 2012, PlayStreets Chicago has increasingly expanded its reach and investment into underserved black and brown communities. The program has provided hours of safe play and interaction for the area residents. This could very well provide the spark to enable youth to take back their neighborhoods.
Written by Aerianna Hamilton
Edited by Cathy Milne
Interview: Kalya Burnett; July 14, 2017
World Sport Chicago: PlayStreets Chicago
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Gricelda Chandler – Used With Permission