The Show Must Go On! The COVID-19 Response to PlayStreets

NJHI 2018: Upstream Action Acceleration Connecting Families to Communities
When the pandemic impacted their plans for PlayStreets programming, the Holly City Development Corporation partners provided themed activity kits to Millville families to help them stay active.

For the past four years, Holly City Development Corporation (HCDC) has partnered with many organizations in the City of Millville to bring the PlayStreets program to neighborhood children. Traditionally for six weeks during July and August, a city block is shut down on Wednesdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Each week a different lead organization runs the program according to a theme such as Arts & Culture, Public Safety, Summer Fit and Fun, Carnival, Christmas in July and a Back-to-School BBQ where the kids receive free backpacks.

Last year, we engaged more than 1300 kids over a six-week period. The kids look forward to a safe place where they can play, do craft projects, play games, and run through the spray of a fire hydrant. Every child also receives lunch.

Community Builders Heather and Donnie Garrison delivered activity kits to Millville children and their families to help them stay connected while sheltering at home this summer.

At the request of Millville residents, HCDC and our partners planned to expand PlayStreets and provide additional interactive activities and learning experiences this summer. Then the COVID-19 crisis happened. By May, it was evident we were not going to be able to host PlayStreets programming. It was a hard decision to make because we did not want to disappoint the kids.

Our team met virtually and decided we had to figure out a way to bring the PlayStreets experience to the children in our community. We decided to stick to our original schedule and themes. We also decided to limit registration to 300 children. Our announcement spread on social media and registration was filled in less than 24 hours!

Each week, the lead organization created 300 themed kits of activities and challenges for children and their families to do at home. Our team met at 9 a.m. on Monday morning, picked up kits for our delivery areas and delivered the kits to the homes of the children. They were well received and it was great! The kids and parents were so appreciative.

The Holly City Development Corporation partners distributed 300 backpacks full of school supplies to Millville children.

The six weeks flew by and culminated with our distributing stuffed bookbags full of school supplies to 300 children.

Next year we hope to bring back the in-person PlayStreets experience and make it bigger than ever. To partner in this work, connect with us.

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Lisa Romano
Holly City Development Corporation