Summer program opens city streets to neighbors by closing them


37335585_1758695360845607_4092440024417566720_nDozens of community groups are coming together to host Playstreets Chicago, a series of events focused on creating a safe space for children to play and learn.

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), partnered with Gads Hill Center and World Sport Chicago, is working with 26 targeted communities, including Rogers Park and Edgewater.

37250278_1758700507511759_6034610315679760384_nThe events in each neighborhood have different activities suited for the children that live in those communities. All events are for all ages.

“It’s a safe space for kids to play,” Susana Salgado, the Family Service Program Manager at Centro Romero, said. “The reason is in our neighborhoods there are a lot of shootings and gang activity, especially in summer it’s not safe for kids.”

37235576_1758694117512398_4699278092563120128_nCentro Romero has hosted Playstreets events for three years now. According to Salgado, many kids come from different neighborhoods and different backgrounds.

“This provides a safe space for the whole community,” She said. “Everyone, including seniors.”

Emily Tolley, a staff member at Centro Romero, started out as a volunteer when she was a social work student at Loyola University Chicago. After graduating, she wanted to continue helping the community.

“I worked here all throughout my time at Loyola,”  the 22-year-old said. “I don’t want to be done here.”

Tolley and Salgado agreed that the event on July 16 went well, despite the low turnout.

There were activities such as a bouncy house, zumba and a water balloon fight at the end.

Itzel Peña, 11, said she knew a lot of the kids that were at the event and she enjoyed it.

There have already been three events in Rogers Park and Edgewater in the past month and more events are scheduled for Rogers Park in July. The next event will be on July 30 on the block of 1620-1610 West Northshore from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Additional reporting by Esmeralda Silva


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