Philadelphia

Philly's Teenage ‘Play Captains' Promote Outdoor Fun for Kids

This summer there are more than 30 Play Captains throughout Kensington, Hunting Park and West Philly

Block captains are not an unfamiliar sight around Philadelphia, but a new, fresh-faced force is also doing its part to help unite the community.

They're called "Play Captains," or 15- to 19-year-olds who got a summer job to make sure that kids feel safe to play outside in the summer. Fab Youth Philly's Rebecca Fabiano started the initiative in 2017 after she noticed that kids wouldn't play in the "Playstreets."

"We talk about teenagers being the future," Fabiano said. "So, kids have a chance to meet those teenagers and help lift them up, and the teenagers have something to look forward to and some skills to develop."

The Play Captains set up outdoor games for kids on so-called Playstreets, a collection of more than 600 designated streets that Philadelphia Parks and Recreation close off to traffic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the summer. These closed-off streets allow kids to play outside in the summer and get a free meal.

This summer there are more than 30 Play Captains throughout Kensington, Hunting Park and West Philadelphia. Shereen Whitehead, a Play Captain in Hunting Park, said the program is her way of giving back and helping local kids.

"It would be better if we get their minds off of bad stuff and just play games with them and just get them distracted from all this negative stuff going on," she said.

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