Children love to get outside and ride their bikes, trikes and scooters around, especially now summer is here. However it’s often not safe enough for children to play in their own street and many live a long way from green spaces. One organisation is helping communities to take action on that and create safe play time sessions in local streets for local children… all across the UK. They are also trying to get more councils on board to support these activities. Meet Playing Out and find out about play street schemes:
Play streets are short, resident-led, temporary road closures enabling children to play safely outside their own front doors once a week or month. As well as giving children the opportunity to be more active, learn skills and make friends on their street, play streets can help create more space for safe covid distancing. Like school streets, they can support the aims of active travel, reduced car dominance and safe community connection.
Visit our Playing Out Play Streets Shop for all your play street resources.
Play streets have huge potential for emerging and healing from this very difficult time. Plus, the multiple benefits of play streets align with the strategic priorities of local authorities. Here are five reasons to support play streets as part of a #SummerOfPlay from Lucy Colbeck, Play Streets Development Officer at Playing Out.
Five Reasons Why Councils should Support Play Streets
- Increase children’s physical activity and wellbeing
Play is essential for children’s wellbeing – it’s how they socialise and make sense of the world around them. It is vital for their mental health and their main form of physical exercise. These are all especially important now, as children have experienced a long period of semi-isolation and sedentary time indoors, to the detriment of their mental and physical health.
If you give children space and freedom outdoors, they will quite naturally play and be more active. One parent has described it as “getting exercise without noticing”. Play streets give children a chance to do this close to home.
- Build strong, inclusive communities
Communities now need support to build resilience, connection and trust again, preventing further crises of loneliness and isolation. Play streets can be transformative for street communities. They create new and important connections between neighbours of all ages. These connections support everyday contact and conviviality, friendships between adults and children, the exchange of help of all kinds, and a range of other neighbourhood activities.
We know of streets where neighbours were able to support each other throughout the pandemic because of the connections they had built through organising play streets.
- Promote safer streets and support active travel
Play streets, like school streets, support the current local and national government focus on active travel and safe streets. They help shift attitudes and pave the way for more permanent changes to our streets which need community buy-in, such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Play streets could be even used as a community engagement tool for such initiatives.
With traffic-dominated streets being one of the main barriers to children playing out near home, creating safe space on the doorstep helps children to be more active, and makes for friendlier, more connected communities.
- Support covid-recovery
Play streets are in essence simply additional safe outdoor space for children to play on their own doorstep. They are for neighbours only; they are not public events and never feel crowded. Organisers are extremely responsible citizens and with guidance, play streets can be socially distanced and safe. Play streets create extra hyper-local public space and could be a powerful and safe way for communities to connect and heal from the challenges and isolation of covid restrictions.
- Simple and low-cost
Most of the work of organising a play street is done by residents, with support from Playing Out and local organisations. There are some admin and promotion costs associated with a play street scheme – these are usually similar to any street party application process. There may also be some costs for provision of road signs and kit boxes for residents to. But mainly, the council simply needs to make it easy for people to get on with it!
Playing Out have loads of free information and advice on their website to help you set up or grow play streets in your area. Find out more at www.playingout.net
Plus, keep an eye on our communications channels for an exciting announcement coming soon!
Brought to you by Brightwayz and Brightkidz social enterprise – products, projects and information to support active travel initiatives. See our range of products to support your active travel campaigns here. Some items are currently feature on our Brightwayz website www.brightwayz.co.uk
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