In an effort to combat childhood obesity and give children a safe place to play, employees from the AmeriHealth Foundation, Keystone Mercy Health Plan and Wells Fargo teamed up to build a new playground at the Chester A. Arthur Elementary School.
The playground officially opened on June 11 at 20th and Catherine streets after a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring leaders from Chester Arthur, AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation, Keystone Mercy Health Plan, Wells Fargo and Friends of Chester Arthur.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and we’re deeply grateful to the employees of AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation, Keystone Mercy Health Plan and Wells Fargo, as well as all of the donors who helped us improve our village,” said Renee Musgrove, principal of Chester A. Arthur Elementary School.
“Our students and the thousands of children in the neighborhood now have a safe place to engage in healthy, physical activity.”
The playground is the second built by AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation since its founding last year. The Foundation’s Safe Playground Program was borne out of growing concerns around increasing rates of childhood obesity and issues regarding the lack of safe play spaces available to children in disadvantaged communities.
According to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, nearly 60 percent of Philadelphia children from ages 6 to 11 are overweight or obese. One of the reasons often cited for this health crisis is the lack of safe places for children to engage in physical activity.
“It pains me to know that for the 10 cities with the nation’s highest obesity rates, the direct costs connected with obesity and obesity-related diseases are roughly $50 million per 100,000 residents,” said Philadelphia Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.
“There is no doubt we can use that kind of money for other things, like building more playgrounds like the one AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation, Keystone Mercy Health Plan and Wells Fargo volunteered to build at Chester A. Arthur Elementary School. It has been proven time and time again that healthy and active children become healthy, active and happy adults. Let’s keep up the good work.”
Earlier this year, the Foundation built a playground in Columbia, S.C., and plans to build playgrounds in York, Pa., and New Orleans, La.
“This public and private partnership demonstrates the opportunity to give Philadelphia children a safe, accessible place to exercise. These playgrounds help to place our children on the path to good health at an early age,” said Maria Pajil Battle, president of AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation.