“For more than 80 years, the Blues® have made a difference in the lives of the communities they serve. One area of specific focus for all Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies is the health and wellness of children and reversing the trend of childhood obesity. It is going to take a collaborative effort to make a difference in this growing epidemic and the Blues are looking forward to working alongside PHA, city officials and local community partners to organize and successfully launch Play Streets events across the country.
~ Scott P. Serota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association president and CEO, at the time of the commitment in 2012
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) committed to assisting PHA in our efforts to make communities across America healthier. BCBSA agreed to provide $1,000,000 in funding to support the creation of 40 new Play Streets – roads closed to traffic and open to the community to encourage physical activity. These Play Streets offered a low-cost, high-impact way to encourage more physical activity, particularly in neighborhoods that lack open space.
Between 2012 and 2013, PHA and BCBSA invited all cities and towns across the United States to apply for funding to plan and implement four Play Street events in their communities. After reviewing all submitted RFPs, ten cities were selected and announced. BCBSA, PHA and others worked with the chosen localities, helping to execute the plans laid out in Play Street proposals. The flexibility of the Play Streets initiative allowed localities to tailor the program to their needs and resources. Cities and towns also had the option to close one to two blocks at a time, partner with farmers’ markets or parks to maximize space or close many miles of streets.
Only about 25 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 15 meet the recommendation to get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day.