Neighborhood and Built Environment: Healthy Spaces

People come together when common spaces in their community feel safe, welcoming, and encourage learning and play. Through our work in neighborhoods, we support organizations building and improving physical spaces for sports, recreation, and wellness activities that are accessible to all. From group training and classes to individual and family support, we continue to work with partners that elevate awareness and access to essential resources.

Hockey…Without the Ice! Score a Goal in Sneakers

Stay Informed, Take Action: Our Commitment to Safety

Hockey player

Hockey…Without the Ice! Score a Goal in Sneakers

Players wear shoes instead of skates, use a ball instead of a puck, and wield plastic hockey sticks in the sport of Dek hockey. It gets its name from the material of the boards in the rink, and it’s been around since the 1970s. With much more affordable equipment than traditional hockey gear, and no need to learn how to skate, Dek hockey is welcoming in a new generation of hockey players.

We are making a play with our support of the multi-functional Dek hockey rink and community event space in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The rink, located at the Toyota Sportsplex, is a community project that was funded by us, along with the City of Wilkes-Barre, and the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. The rink is the first outdoor Dek hockey rink in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Dek hockey allows players of all ages and experience levels to try out the exciting sport of hockey. In their first season, more than 245 youth and adults played in various divisions and sessions. The rink also hosted Learn to Play clinics and events, reaching 200-250 total participants throughout the year.

Competition was fierce, fans were passionate, and the rink team worked to keep everyone updated on their social media feeds.

"One of the main pillars for the Dek is trying to give everyone a chance to play hockey," said Community Hockey Programming Manager Kyle Hammer.

To that goal, a Special Needs league was created so players of all abilities got an opportunity to play. A big event around this league was free to participants and players got to play not only on the Dek, but also the ice, and hear a speech from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach.

The rink staff are also working to gain awareness about the sport in local schools.

"During the offseason, we adopted a program from the Pittsburgh Penguins," said Hammer. "It is an in-school gym class curriculum workbook. We bring the workbook to schools, as well as equipment, and we teach kids how to play and get them interested in the sport of hockey."

This year, we also supported the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Hunt Armory ice rink in Pittsburgh; the East Aurora Classic Rink in East Aurora, New York; and The Ice at Canalside in Buffalo, New York.

The Pittsburgh Penguins received a Stanley award in the social impact and growth category from the National Hockey League for their efforts in advancing equity in youth hockey, in part due to their support of the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Hunt Armory.

Family riding bikes

Stay Informed, Take Action: Our Commitment to Safety

We are focused on the safety of ALL people. Children, seniors, and all ages in between can benefit from resources, classes, and training to remind them to stay alert and get educated about potential distractions and dangers as they walk, play, and drive in the community.

In 2023, we offered our support to the Injury Prevention Program at Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center, specifically for its Pedestrian Safety Program and Mature Driver Improvement Course. 

Holy Spirit Medical Center provides community outreach and trauma prevention programs for a range of safety issues, including fall prevention, violence prevention, gun safety, traumatic blood loss through "Stop the Bleed" training, medication safety, teen driving, mature driving, distracted driving awareness, and pedestrian safety. In 2023, these programs collectively reached more than 50,000 people across five Pennsylvania counties through one-on-one support and workshops with local community groups, businesses, and at events. 

The Pedestrian Safety Program is presented at schools, health fairs, senior centers, and industries. Participants receive information on walking and biking safety, including proper lighting, wearing appropriate clothing, using reflectors, and understanding current laws on walking and biking. In 2023, more than 360 people took part in one of the eight sessions offered. 

Adults 50+ can enroll in the Mature Driver Improvement Course to learn about the effects of aging on their bodies; how to navigate roads they often travel; how to adapt to changing car technology; and current traffic laws. While there is no actual driving in the course, participants gain valuable knowledge about how to operate a vehicle safely. They also receive adaptive equipment for driving and reflectors for safer walking.

"In the Mature Driving Course, I’ve educated 110 older adults about the changes in their bodies, cars, and roadways and how to adapt to these changes to stay safe on the roadways," said Sunny Goodyear, injury prevention and outreach coordinator and clinical nursing instructor at Holy Spirit Medical Center.

"Many older adults feel frustrated with all of the changes, but through group discussion, multimedia presentations, and hands-on practice, I provide education and support. They leave feeling empowered and equipped to navigate the road safely."

We are proud to help our community — and future generations — feel safe, secure, and able to find resources with ease.