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Block parties aren’t therapy, however, they can be therapeutic. For the organizer and for the participants!

Block parties encourage free play for children. I’m one of the parents that created the Free Play Matters Task Force inspired by the work of Peter Gray, Ph.D., and Lenore Skenazy, co-founders of Let Grow. It’s well documented that there’s been an alarming increase in the mental health challenges of today’s children. An abundance of free play can make children happier, better problem-solvers, and more energized to pursue learning and develop deep interests.

The United States is lonely. Block parties offer social connectedness. A recent national survey of American adults by the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that 36% of respondents reported feeling lonely “frequently” or “almost all the time or all the time.” To address our nation’s epidemic of loneliness, the U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy, released The Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. I have moved a total of 28 times in my life, both nationally and internationally. I know all too well how it feels to be lonely and isolated. I also know how one smile, one person, one conversation can make a difference.


After block parties, I have seen an uptick in teenagers being hired by their neighbors – a win-win! Babysitting, pet sitting, watering plants, mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow. Part-time paid work helps teenagers build agency and confidence. For those on a fixed income or in search of a familiar face to care for their pet, hiring a teen from the neighborhood is a great solution!

Block parties can cultivate a culture of showing up for one another in countless ways. After their block party, a Wiltonite shared that a neighborhood child decorates everyone’s mailbox for holidays, and a family with a generator offers charging in their house during power outages. The street also looks out for each other. An elderly neighbor with Alzheimer’s was returned safely to her home after she was seen walking without her aide.

When we get together face-to-face, we realize that we have more in common than we are different. In Wilton, you will see lawn signs supporting various political parties on the same street. That hasn’t kept neighbors from having block parties. My town is proof that you can get along with your neighbors who vote differently than you, that you may disagree on many issues but you can still laugh together and offer a helping hand.

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