Today's guest blogger is Bobby Henon, a Philadelphia City Councilman representing the 6th District in Northeast Philadelphia. He can be reached through www.bobbyhenon.com.
The health and well-being of our city's children is a major indicator of our quality of life. As a father of two boys, I want my sons – and all of Philadelphia's kids – to enjoy a safe and healthy childhood that sets them up for a long and healthy life. I'm launching a new program, Philly Play!, to help move us toward that goal.
We've heard the numbers: as many as 40 percent of Philadelphia's kids are overweight or obese, a percentage that is both tragically high and within our capacity to lower. Access to healthy food and environmental changes that support health are key to making this change, and Get Healthy Philly and many other organizations in our city are doing great work to address those arenas. But physical activity and exercise are very important, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserts that healthy kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. The thing is, those 60 minutes can go by in a flash if they're accomplished through active play. I've experienced that for myself through playing with my own kids.
Through Philly Play! I hope to encourage other families to join mine in viewing play as a fun, easy preventative health measure, rather than thinking of exercise as a chore. Philly Play! focuses on connecting parents to the free and low-cost recreation resources that exist in my District and throughout Philadelphia. Our city is blessed with acres of public parks and play areas, many of which are under-utilized. At a time when many families are on very tight budgets, I want to make sure they know these resources exist and are available for their use. You don't need an expensive gym membership to stay active and fit; there are many more accessible ways to make the Northeast your playground!
To that end, Philly Play! is designed to facilitate play for 6th District residents by providing maps of existing recreation resources in the area. It will also feature a forum where people can share tips, questions, and concerns about family wellness in the Northeast. I am also excited to be holding a series of Community Conversations around the District this fall so that I can hear directly from residents about how I can support them in getting and staying active.
To officially kick off Philly Play!, I am hosting Fall Fest on September 28 (10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., 6700 and 6800 blocks of Torresdale Ave.) Along with traditional street fair activities, you and your family can enjoy:
Free activities for kids including a ZoomDance Action Adventure Station, rock climbing and Velcro walls, obstacle course and pumpkin painting.
Regional health and wellness partners providing low-cost dental exams, flu and pneumonia vaccinations, and blood pressure and BMI screenings.
Information on new health care exchanges.
A farmer's market.
Informational tables from numerous health-related City resources.
I'm also hoping to encourage biking around with Northeast through Biking with Bobby on October 12, an event offered in partnership with The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. It will feature a large community ride, as well as urban riding safety information, a bike skills obstacle course for kids, a bike give-away, and free tune-ups.
No matter where you live in Philly, I hope you'll visit Philly Play! for more on my program, including links to other citywide and national resources, testimonials from Philadelphia leaders on how they play, and much more. While you're there, share how you play. We would love to hear from you.
I'll see you on the playground!
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