- Steven Christy
- Thousands of local families flocked to Open Streets OKC in south Oklahoma City last year. | Photo Steven Christy / OCCHD Prodigal / provided
If youve visited one of the highly successful Oklahoma City-County Health Departments Open Streets OKC events, youve witnessed local residents challenging their friends in a tug-of-war, others striking dance moves (salsa, line and belly), kids playing hopscotch, teens taking turns hitting a wiffle ball and much more.
Its a family-friendly event made possible by the health departments Wellness Now Coalition, an initiative that dates back to 2010, when the countys health statistics were grim, causing leaders to call for change. Three years into the coalitions existence, its leaders introduced Oklahoma County residents to the first Open Streets event, a street festival focusing on health and wellness. Perhaps just as importantly, Open Streets mission promotes active transportation.
Oklahoma City is not easy to walk, explained Carrie Blumert, manager of the Wellness Now Coalition. I dont know anyone who can walk to and from home and work. Unless you live downtown, you probably cant. Cities that provide residents with active transportation are overall healthier. We want to bring that awareness to Oklahoma City.
Open Streets returns to south OKC 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Thousands of people are expected to stroll along S. Robinson Avenue between SW 29th and SW 15th streets to interact with more than 40 community organizations, each a member of the Wellness Now Coalition.
At the seventh installment of Open Streets, participants can test their rowing skills with help from the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, enter an obstacle course created by Junior League of Oklahoma City, jump rope with Latino Community Development Agency, challenge friends to a casual game of broomball with Oklahoma City University and more. Just days before Halloween, children are invited to wear costumes.
Between all the activities and food trucks each offers a healthy food item the hints are there that Open Streets is meeting its mission. The event involves walking to get to each booth. Participants are also encouraged to bike, skate or stroll with a pet.
When you bike places, walk places and skate places, you are engaging in active transportation, which increases your physical and mental health, Blumert said.
Along the Open Streets routes, participants can connect with Metro Technology Centers, Aalim Bellydance Academy, Spokies Bike Share, Oklahoma City Energy Football Club and University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, just to name a few.
When people participate in these types of activities, they feel more connected to their community, Blumert said. When the coalition increases knowledge about these organizations and how the community can access and use them, we become a healthier community.
Print headline: Community activated, At the heart of the popular Open Streets events is the health message around active transportation getting around using human energy.