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Blue Cross And Blue Shield Association And Partnership For A Healthier America Bring 40 "Play Streets" To 10 Cities To Combat Childhood Obesity

Winning cities to support creation of accessible activity space for kids across the country

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to end the childhood obesity epidemic in America, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) today announced the 10 cities which will host Play Streets over the next year: Minneapolis, Minnesota; Savannah, Georgia; Durham, North Carolina; Buffalo, New York; New Orleans, Louisiana; Omaha, Nebraska; York, Pennsylvania; San Francisco, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Caguas, Puerto Rico. Each city will host at least four Play Streets events by closing designated roads to traffic and opening them up to the community as a place to play.

Play Streets is one of many initiatives around the country in which BCBSA and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are promoting prevention and wellness. Many of these programs are geared to increasing physical activity and helping people make better nutrition choices. The effort is meant to stem obesity and prevent the chronic illnesses that are linked to it.   

"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," said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA president and CEO.  "We are looking forward to this collaborative effort and working alongside PHA, the winning cities, the local Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies, and community leaders to help create safe, open outdoor spaces and events to encourage activity."

The ten winning cities will receive funds, technical assistance, and communications and marketing support from PHA, BCBSA, and the local Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to create Play Streets events in their communities. The Play Streets program is flexible, allowing each winning city to tailor the program to its needs and resources. The winners were chosen based on their ongoing commitment to increasing physical activity among kids, health education and programming, sustainability of the program, and community development. They proposed a range of creative ideas for bringing the concept to life from temporary skate parks to synthetic ice skating rinks to live music and dance to including farmers markets to bike fittings, rentals and lessons, and even something called "Pumpkin Dodge Ball."

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