This week marked a milestone in the UK street play movement, with the publication of three new reports.
The first is an evaluation report by Bristol University [pdf link], published by Play England, which looked mainly at the health outcomes for children. The second is a report [pdf link] from Playing Out, the Bristol-based national hub for street play, of a survey of people directly involved in street play sessions. The third, written by me [pdf link] and also published by Play England, explores the issues around taking street play initiatives forward in disadvantaged areas.
This blog post from Playing Out gives a helpful overview of the three reports (as well as a flavour of the high level of press interest).
This is a quick share of a very useful report pulling together key research and other material on designing streets for play. The report was written for the campaigning group Playing Out by Helen Forman, an architect in the housing field and volunteer activator for the group.
I have long argued that making residential streets more child-friendly is crucial to expanding their everyday freedoms. This literature review is an essential resource for anyone who shares this view. Just click here to download a copy.
Helen’s blog post on the report is below.
There’s a house on a corner near where I live in suburban Leeds that makes me happy nearly every time I pass it. Not because it’s anything special architecturally, but because there are almost always children playing in the street outside. Further into town there’s a Victorian terrace, where cycling past once I smiled as I …
I am pleased to share a revealing, insightful and inspiring story from my home city. Clare Rogers wanted to make her streets safer for her kids. This goal led her first to organising Playing Out sessions in her own street in North London, then to becoming an advocate for walking, cycling and more child-friendly neighbourhoods.
Clare’s enthusiasm for play street sessions, with their potential to offer a more attractive vision of what residential streets can offer, fits with my own research into the power of the model. But it is her messages for campaigners that resonate most strongly.
Car dominance is a real problem for city-dwellers everywhere, and especially for urban children. But it will not be solved by pitting motorists against cyclists. Instead, we need to shift the focus to building a shared vision for urban neighbourhoods and cities as a whole.
Talking about children helps make this shift. Enrique Peñalosa – recently re-elected mayor of Bogotá – is famous for his maxim (which Clare also highlights) that children are an indicator species for children: if they work for kids, they work for everyone. The converse is also true: cities that do not work for children are not working for anyone.
Today a call goes out to all UK political parties to invest in children’s play because of the proven benefits to children, families and communities. The call comes from the Children’s Play Policy Forum (CPPF), which brings together the leading UK agencies with an interest in play.
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.
This post shares news of more positive developments in Australia, including a new video promoting street play, and some new state-wide networks that aim to reconnect children with nature.
First, street play: this video is from Gavin Fairbrother and the OPAL (Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle) project based at Campbelltown in South Australia, and spreads the word about the potential of the model originally drawn up by Playing Out here in the UK.