Even a generation ago, most parents would have greeted this question with blank faces. Playing out was just what kids did – why would you need a reason? Of course, things are different today – for all sorts of reasons. In almost all neighbourhoods, parents need to take a stand, and to resist the norm of parenting that says being a good parent means rearing your child in captivity.
For parents who come together to set up Playing Out road closure projects, taking this stand means extra commitments: talking to neighbours, liaising with the Council, setting up rotas, and maybe spending a couple of hours a week out in the street. So, to rework my opening question: why do parents get involved in organising road closures for play?
Here is the item on street play that was broadcast on The One Show last Monday (24 June 2013). It focuses on the road closure session in Worthing that I described in my post from a couple of weeks ago (and yes, I do pop up a couple of times, flying the flag for outdoor play).
I have written before about street play, and plugged the Playing Out project, whose community-based approach to opening up streets for play is spreading fast. A couple of weekends ago I witnessed a whole Playing Out session from beginning to end (and you will have the chance to see the edited highlights on primetime TV [Update Weds 3 July 2013: watch a clip from this blog post of mine]). It was a thrilling event, welcomed and enjoyed by people of all ages. But while I shared their enthusiasm, I was left wondering if the sheer energy of the occasion could paradoxically weaken the initiative’s prospects. I’ll come back to that thought later – but first, let’s set the scene.
Some disused, overgrown tennis courts near where we live are going to be converted into a community play garden, and I would love to hear your ideas about what could be done there. I am keen for the garden to be a great place for local children and families: where they can have the kind of playful, hands-on, exploratory experiences of nature that I highlighted in my Sowing the Seeds report.
As followers of my facebook page may have spotted, I have been helping to organise a local community event in the Wood Street Plaza – the recently redesigned square that I have mentioned before. The Festive Gathering took place on Saturday afternoon, and I thought I’d give you something of a flavour of what happened.