LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - The streets in downtown Lawton were full with families having fun at the biannual Open Streets event, a health-based initiative that temporarily turns city streets into public playgrounds.
This was the first year Open Streets had a theme, and it was a healthy Lawton. The goal was to bring families together and be active.
“It just encourages that active living, active transportation and it allows people to see what’s available to them in Lawton, because they have these activities set up and they also have materials and information that they’re giving out," said Tiffany Vrska, community relations director at the City of Lawton. "So, you can learn about churches and non-profits and businesses and organizations and everything that Lawton has to offer. This is just multifaceted and we’re really glad to be a part of it every year.”
There were several booths set up offering free vision and health screenings, as well as fun and healthy activities, like a bike that blends smoothies while riding it.
“It’s about having fun, but teaching them being physically active isn’t drudgery. It’s like, oh no I have to go outside... It’s like yay, I have to go outside," said Sandy Foster, program director at Comanche County Memorial Hospital. "In our city there’s so many things, so many great things to do. I think drawing attention to it and getting people out there and more active is really important. We’ve historically ranked low in those. So, we’re more obese than the rest of the state. We smoke more than the rest of the state. But events like this are really drawing attention to that, and we’re seeing that movement in a positive direction.”
Vrska said Open Streets has become more successful as the years have gone by.
“At first we were seeing two to three thousand, then it was three to four, and now it’s about four to five thousand that come out for this four hour event, and I think the community has really made this successful because they get behind it and they come together every year to make sure it’s a success," said Vrska. "They get nothing for setting up out here, but they just want to have a healthy environment and a healthy living activity for kids and families. So, we’re really excited about the progress and the growth of it and we can’t wait to see what’s to come, because every year we add something new and we’re just thankful that Lawton supports that for us.”