photographs by Michelle Sapp, Staff Photographer
“In some ways it’s showing them how to play again,”
Renee from Well Fed told me when I arrived at last Friday’s Play Streets event.
Play Streets is series of government sponsored events with the goal of bringing physical activity back into the lives of American children by turning neighborhood streets into public play spaces. Savannah is one of ten cities in the country to receive the Play Streets grant (as a result of Georgia’s rampant obesity problem) and the Friday May St. event was just one of several Play Streets events this year.
Opportunities for fun and play included double dutch, dancing, cornhole, bounce houses, bowling, drawing, running, a bike race, and hopscotch. Fresh organic food was handed out for free from the West Broad St. YMCA’s Growing Edge Garden, fueling children’s energy with nutritious options like apples and bananas. Healthy Savannah and C.O.P.E. (Childhood Obesity Prevention + Education) continued the emphasis on healthy eating with a booth where kids were asked to create a balanced meal, plotting out on a plate how much protein, veggies, and grains make up a wholesome diet.
Play Streets doesn’t just focus on physical activity and nutrition though: it’s a holistic approach. Art Rise Savannah was brought in to create an area where kids could express themselves through art, and encouraged them to think critically by asking the question: “What is your favorite food memory?” Children filled the booth all afternoon drawing their favorite food memory on paper (which will eventually be bound into a book) and then giving a brief interview about what they drew. The resultant book and film will be shown around town in the coming weeks.
Molly Lieberman, creative director of the West Broad St. YMCA’s art program “Loop It Up Savannah”, expressed her support of Art Rise’s event: “Anything we can do to empower people, share their stories and give them a chance to put something that’s important to them out there is what we’re all about.” Note that Molly said “people”–we were both surprised at the huge turn out of adults participating in the events. It’s not just kids that Play Streets is educating, it’s everyone. So, if you’re interested in pursuing your education and exploring the world around you through art, food and fun come out to play at the next Play Streets event this Sunday (10/26) at Daffin Park. See you there!
Check out Art Rise’s project “Savannah Street Stories” here! http://savstreetstories.com/