Upcoming Webinar

Follow the Leader: A systems approach to advancing urban play Rochester, New York and Community partners creating health streets



August  2020

Presented by:

Jenn Beideman, MPA and Mike Bulger, MA 


FREE - NYSPHA members

$10 - non-members

Continuing Education Credits:

1 CHES credit available

1 CPH credit available 

Space is limited, registration is required.


Urban play in Rochester: 

Play is crucial to the physical, social, and emotional health of children. Despite its benefits, only 25 percent of adults in Rochester say their neighborhood is great for children to play outdoors. Communities across the state can engage cross-sector partners to promote a culture of play in their municipalities. Panelists will focus on how coalitions, advocacy, policies, built environment projects, and programmatic changes have promoted play in Rochester. Attendees will learn about local successes from the perspective of residents, nonprofit organizations, and city officials. Healthi Kids, an initiative of Common Ground Health, is a grassroots coalition advocating for whole child health. Healthi Kids partners to advance safe places for every child to play. Playability assessments demonstrated that neighborhood safety, traffic safety, and unkempt playgrounds deterred parents from letting their children play outside. Initial assessments led to the creation of neighborhood plans to improve play and an advocacy campaign to elevate the importance of play across the city. The coalition has made strides in advocating for kids and play in policies throughout the city. This includes: health and play being integral to the citys comprehensive plan, a playful sidewalk policy, and traffic calming policies. Our work together has also driven significant changes to the built environment including the creation of a downtown play walk, a colorful crosswalk pilot, story walks at local libraries and r-centers, childrens gardens, new playgrounds, and traffic calming features around parks. Finally, programmatic changes can also support a culture of play. By listening to what residents want and being open to piloting new ways of play, collectively we have pushed for new programs supporting safer play spaces for children across the city such as: a playworker pilot at local parks, play streets in neighborhoods, a mobile rec vehicle to activate underutilized space, and training residents in how to support neighborhood play. Youth and resident ownership, coalition building, and government partnerships are key to supporting creative activation of urban play spaces, with potential to spark wider interest in health-related placemaking and policy change. A community-wide approach is critical to activating the ordinary magic of play for every neighborhood. 

Creating Healthy Streets:

Public health advocacy should be grounded in data and must also leverage the power of community partners. By engaging directly with individuals in neighborhoods, professionals can support community-ownership of complete streets projects, leading to more impactful and lasting improvements in traffic safety education and the built environment. As the City of Rochester continues to create vibrant and connected neighborhoods, it is important that streets represent safe spaces for residents and visitors to travel. Studies demonstrate that creating a safe road environment can foster economic revitalization, reduce crime rates, promote physical activity, and support residents health, happiness and well-being. This presentation showcases successful partnerships in Rochester, NY that further complete streets principles. Healthi Kids, an initiative of Common Ground Health, is a community-led coalition advocating for policies, systems, and environments to support whole child health. Healthi Kids works with community members, government, and partner non-profits to advance complete streets initiatives. Our work has resulted in a complete streets ordinance for the City of Rochester and the inclusion of health in our municipal planning organizations long-term transportation plan. Our advocacy is evidence-informed, drawing upon health data analyses and surveys performed by Common Ground Health. The panel will also highlight other successful and innovative approaches to complete street, including a temporary demonstration project and public safety campaign. Reconnect Rochesters Complete Streets Makeover paired neighborhood residents with street design professionals to improve traffic safety on a main road. The temporary pop-up complete streets installation significantly reduced speeding through the makeover site, and neighborhood residents used this demonstration to successfully advocate for permanent changes to the built environment. Healthi Kids also partnered with Causewave Community Partners to convene a steering committee comprised of government officials, community-based organizations, and advocates to create a local traffic safety education campaign. The drive2Bbetter campaign strives to promote a Rochester where every road user feels safe and respected, regardless of their mode of transportation. The drive2Bbetter campaign has used print, television, radio, and social media, along with lawn signs and other materials, to promote this message of complete streets. 

Learning Objectives

Urban Play in Rochester: 

1.  Attendees will understand the current state of play in Rochester, New York

2.  Attendees will learn best practices (or promising practices) on how to build a culture of health through play-based opportunities in the built environment, policy, and programs.

3.  Attendees will learn the importance of cross-sector partnership and strategies for including resident voice in transforming systems to support childrens health and wellness

Creating Healthy Streets:

1.  Attendees will increase their understanding of the connection between transportation planning and public health.

2.  Attendees will gain appreciation for the value of partnerships between government and NGOs.

3.  Attendees will discover the importance and potential of engaging neighborhoods to transform their built environment.

Jenn Beideman provides expertise on advocacy opportunities to advance whole child health in our region (Rochester). A Canadian native, Jenn brings to the position more than a decade of experience in policy research and government relations from a variety of settings. She currently leads several campaigns across the City of Rochester that advocate for play, child-centered placemaking and whole child health. Jenn holds an M.P.A from SUNY Brockport and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto. Jenn is a proud City of Rochester Resident where she lives with her husband in the North Winton neighborhood.

Mike Bulger is the Healthy Communities Coordinator for the Healthi Kids Coaltion, an initiative of Common Ground Health in Rochester, NY. As Healthy Communities Coordinator, Mike oversees Healthi Kids' community food access interventions, and complete streets work. Active in the community, Mike is a member of Comprehensive Access Mobility Plan Advisory Group, the Smoking Health & Action Coalition and the local Urban Agriculture Working Group. He also co-chairs the Drive 2B Better Campaign Steering Committee. Mike holds a master's degree in Food Studies from New York University.

Additional webinars to be announced soon.

Do you have an interesting topic, research or best practice to share?  Click here to download a copy of our webinar presenter application.  Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis as we continuously seek to host a variety of webinars that meet the needs and interest of our network.


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