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C’mon Out and Play: July 13 Devoted to Getting Kids Active

Water balloons were part of the fun at PlayROCs Your Neighborhood last year at Maplewood Library. Provided photo

Saturday is play day in Rochester as neighborhood associations, block clubs, churches, libraries and community organizations throughout the city host events for the fourth annual PlayROCs Your Neighborhood, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 13.

The event draws attention to the role of play in children’s lives, and the fact that not all children have safe places to run around and have fun.

During PlayROCs Your Neighborhood, volunteers at nearly 50 pop-up locations have organized events such as bike rodeos, jump rope, kickball, obstacle courses, chalk drawing and other physical and creative activities.

“Nothing beats watching the kids laugh, smile and run around care free,” Lydia Rivera Warr of the Edgerton Neighborhood Association said in a news release announcing the event. “Our kids deserve to feel that freedom every day, and that’s why it’s important to come together as a community to make sure we can provide a sense of safety and security for our children.”

The number of pop-up locations has more than tripled since the event started with 12 sites in 2016. City recreation centers and libraries that are open on Saturdays will participate, with the exception of the Adams Street Center.

“Each year, we see this amazing energy come from both kids and adults,” Joe DiFiore, youth and family engagement specialist for Healthi Kids, said in the news release. “The momentum created during the day often moves people to submit letters to City Council or meet with elected officials to advocate for safe and accessible play spaces. The growth of this event is a testament to the dedication of community members and their desire to promote change and advance opportunities for play in our neighborhoods.”

According to a survey by health planning agency Common Ground Health, adults throughout the region said the most important health problems and concerns for children are mental/emotional health, obesity and physical activity.

Among respondents from the city, only 25.5 percent believe their neighborhood is great for children to play outdoors, compared to 64.3 percent in the suburbs. Only 45.6 percent of Rochester respondents feel safe in their neighborhoods, compared to 77.5 percent in the suburbs.

“Our data shows that while we have made great strides in reclaiming our neighborhoods, we still need to advocate for policy, systems and environmental changes that put kids and families first,” says advocacy manager Jenn Beideman for Healthi Kids. “Every child has the right to live in a neighborhood where they can safely play, learn and grow. By supporting play in our neighborhoods, we are providing children with the benefits of play and improving their mental, physical, social and emotional health.”

Play ROCS Your Neighborhood is for children and their families. For a complete list of locations, go to