Street Kids: Groups Want to Make NYC Roads Child Safe

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Remember, back in the day, when you used to go outside and scamper around the streets of New York with all the other rosy-cheeked neighborhood kids, playing stickball and tag and hopscotch as the summer sun sank gently into the horizon?

No? Well, not to worry, Runnin' Scared doesn't either -- and we can't really imagine New York being the kind of place where youngins would want to play outside, considering that NYC traffic puts speed over pedestrian safety. (It's even worse if you're a child from a lower-income household: Studies show that vehicle crashes disproportionately affect youth from poor areas.)

But a coalition of New Yorkers wants to change this.

Long before the hustle and bustle of modernity, Transportation Alternatives says that Big Apple babies had a long-standing tradition of outdoor games.

The group -- and partner NYC Strategic Alliance for Health -- want to bring back that trend this summer, and will help civic groups and neighborhood organizations find the money to get thoroughfares "play street" designation -- basically a permit that closes a street to traffic at certain times of the week, so that kids can have fun without fear.

Though play streets have been around in the past, the groups are pushing for their expansion this year.

Two deadlines to seek play street protections, however, are looming.

If you want to get the designation for a road, you must apply through the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene by Feb. 21.

If you want cash for a prospective play street -- to buy sporting goods or fund children's activities -- you have to contact the Citizens Committee for New York City's New Yorkers For Better Neighborhoods grants program by Jan. 31.

"We're acknowledging there's a history of kids playing in the street, but that it's gone away," Jennifer Godenzo, TA's pedestrian advocacy manager, told Runnin' Scared.

(She's also your contact if you want help with setting up a play street.)

"We just want to get the kids to reclaim this."


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