The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) Announces Funding Opportunity for Cities to Combat Childhood Obesity with New Play Spaces

ARTICLE | Aug 10, 2012

The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), led by its honorary chair Michelle Obama, has teamed up with Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) to offer cities and towns across the country funding to implement a new initiative to fight childhood obesity in their neighborhoods.  A total of 10 winning localities will receive $50,000 to support technical assistance and design/creation of Play Streets – a program which closes roads to traffic and opens them to the community to bring physical activity back into the lives of children.

The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) invites cities and towns across the United States to apply for $50,000 in funding to get kids and communities active as part of the nationwide PHA Play Streets program. Play Streets close specific streets to traffic on a routine basis and open that space to the community to encourage physical activity. They offer a high-impact, low-cost approach to encouraging and increasing physical activity, particularly in neighborhoods that often lack sufficient open space for activity.

The program can be successful by closing as few as 1-2 blocks at a time or many miles of area streets. Another strategy is to partner with farmers, markets, or parks to maximize space. Each city or town has the ability to build and sustain a program that works within the parameters of its unique design. Cities around the country have experienced the benefits of the Play Streets concept: Open Streets in Chicago, IL and Fort Worth, TX, Sunday Parkways in Portland, OR, and Sunday Streets in San Francisco, CA are a few examples.

Play Streets are based on the tenet that cities and towns are incubators for change and action. City or town leaders, local nonprofits, communities and private sector businesses are in a unique position to promote social efficacy and cohesion in communities across the country, thereby positively impacting the current physical inactivity crisis among our children.

The goals of PHA's Play Streets program are to:

  • Establish a venue for children, families and communities to be physically active;
  • Promote sustainable public/private partnerships that promote social change and efforts to support physical activity among children;
  • Encourage economic development by showcasing local businesses and other key partners; and
  • Motivate and guide action by community leaders to strengthen communities and build social capital.

To support the expansion of the Play Streets concept to as many places as possible, PHA will award $50,000 to each of ten (10) qualified cities or towns to plan and implement four (4) Play Street events over a one (1) year period. Each city or town is encouraged to utilize existing resources and community organizations to assist it with this task and will be responsible for coordinating all of the programmatic elements related to each Play Street, as well as the on-the ground work involved in implementation. Only one submission per city or town will be accepted. Submissions will only be accepted from Mayoral or City Council offices.

Proposals must be received by 12 p.m. (noon) Eastern Time on Wednesday, August 29, 2012, via email to to be eligible. Click here for the proposal form. 

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