Tag Archives: London

Back to the future: how London’s new mayor can reconnect children with nature

So our new Mayor has made a public commitment that all children should have access to nature. The Government will also soon launch a new plan to restore nature and reconnect children to it. How might Mayor Khan fulfil this ambitious pledge so that London also leads on the Government strategy?

Sowing the seeds report front coverFor a blueprint, Sadiq need look no further than my 2011 Sowing the Seeds report, whose central vision strongly echoes his commitment. My goal in writing the report was to get beyond the warm words and (let’s be honest) at times nostalgic sentiment that tends to frame this topic.

Sowing the Seeds took a hard-nosed look at the evidence to show how spending time in nature enhances children’s physical and emotional well-being and learning, and fosters their concern for their environment.

Continue reading

First ever area-wide evaluation of street play proves its potential

Street play initiatives can make a real difference to the lives of thousands of children and families across an urban area. This was the key message of the first ever area-wide study of a street play programme, which I carried out for Hackney Council. My evaluation – launched by the London Borough last Friday – also revealed that schemes have caused minimal levels of traffic disruption, and have faced very little local opposition.

Hackney play streets report cover Continue reading

Whose fire is it anyway?

Fire in churchyardThis post looks at fires, the value of fire in children’s play and learning, and the sometimes problematic attitudes and actions of the fire authorities. It starts with a personal anecdote. (Its timing on Bonfire Night is kind of coincidental, but kind of not.)

Continue reading

Lady Allen – the godmother of play – speaks

Here is a true gem from the archives of play: extended video footage of Lady Allen of Hurtwood. Lady Allen is the foremost figure in the history of children’s play in the UK (I reviewed her classic Planning for Playavailable as a pdf from the marvellous Playscapes blog – in a previous post). The video focuses on the staffed adventure playgrounds Lady Allen created in the 1960s and 1970s to provide play opportunities for disabled children, some of which continue today under the management of the charity Kids.

Some health warnings: at times the language used in the video to describe the children is old-fashioned, inappropriate, and even offensive to today’s ears – though in Lady Allen’s day the terms were standard. Also, the video is somewhat grainy and jumpy. Oh – and Lady Allen’s accent could cut glass at 20 paces. But do not let any of this put you off, or you will miss out on as clear a manifesto for adventurous play as you are ever likely to see.

Continue reading

Open for Play: The Director’s Cut

Do you want to enjoy all the presentations from last month’s Open for Play seminar – on designing for play in playgrounds, streets and public spaces – from the comfort of your own office (or living room, studio, or bedroom)? Well, here is your chance. The full programme of formal presentations is now available to view online in glorious video and audio.

Continue reading

When art meets free play, who wins?

Decorated shop window at Sceaux GardensWhat happens when artists who are used to structured programmes work with children who expect to be able to play freely? This is the question I explore here, in an edited version of a chapter from the book The Cat Came As A Tomato, published by the South London Gallery in 2011.

Continue reading

There are paedophiles in the bushes

A bush in Butterfield Green, HackneyIn this guest post, Eleanor Image describes how she took up the trusty sword of truth, and vanquished a myth. Eleanor is Play Development Worker at Play Association Tower Hamlets (PATH). Tower Hamlets, in East London, includes some of the most disadvantaged parts of the capital.

Continue reading