Go Out and Play for Healthy Communities

Wouldn’t it be great if there were one thing that could improve academic performance, decrease childhood obesity, spur creativity and innovation, invigorate local economies with investment, all while reducing stress and anxiety?  Would it surprise you to know that “play” has been linked to these benefits? While play alone may not be a silver bullet to addressing these concerns, it is certainly a vital component to healthy and engaged communities.

The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative

The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative is a group of committed individuals and organizations dedicated to advancing the importance of play in the lives of children, families and communities in the Pittsburgh region.

Beginning in 2013 through informal conversations about the value of play between leaders from Pittsburgh Association for The Education of Young Children (PAEYC), Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Carnegie Museum of Art, and Kids Plus Pediatrics, the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative has grown from four founding members to include 22 member organizations in the Pittsburgh region.

Members of the collaborative work to advocate for play in each of our diverse fields. We come together to host play conversation events, present our city’s case for play at national conferences, raise awareness about play through community events, and demonstrate how play can be used as a catalyst for community development through projects like our work on the Greater Hazelwood Play Trail and Braddock’s Recycle Park.

Greater Hazelwood Play Trail

Through a multi-year process of community engagement and planning what Hazelwood may look like if it were the “neighborhood of play,” the Greater Hazelwood Play Trail is beginning to take shape. Linking together different playful areas in the neighborhood, the trail will serve as a reminder that play can happen anywhere.

In September 2016, a vacant lot turned playground at 5113 Lytle Street was the first in a series of sites along the greater Hazelwood Play Trail to receive an injection of creativity and play. With generous support from the Heinz Endowments, the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, PAEYC, and the Hazelwood Initiative partnered with KaBOOM! to bring together a group of over 160 volunteers to build a playground in a single day.

In coming months, the former site of the Elizabeth Street Playground, now a paved lot, will begin its transformation into a playful parklet featuring new gardens, public art, and space for community programing.

See Play in Action! Join us for Ultimate Play Day

This year, the 5th Annual Ultimate Play Day will be held on Sunday, April 30, 2017 from 1-4 pm in Allegheny Commons East Park in the Northside. Members from the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative will bring a variety of activities that highlight the value and importance of play as an essential part of living well.

Attendees of all ages can begin to experience firsthand the benefits of play and will leave with ideas to encourage play in their own lives. The event is free and open to the public.

Keep Play in Mind

Everyone can benefit from dedicating a small part of each day to play! Visit the website to learn more and stay connected through the e-newsletter at www.playfulpgh.org.

For more information about the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, contact Teresa Pizzella at tpizzella@paeyc.org.