May 2022: One of our local Kettering streets came alive with play this month – with pupils from Grange Primary Academy laughing, scooting, cycling and skipping during a car-free ‘School Play Street’ event organised by us here at Brightwayz...
The school had teamed up with us to run the School Play Street outside their school gates - and it was the very first one ever held in North Northamptonshire. With support from school staff, emergency services, neighbours, the council and local councillors, the road was closed to vehicles and children were able to play safely in the street.
A team of firefighters from Kettering Fire Station added to the fun, bringing along one of their engines and treating children to water-filled hose fun.
A Host of Fun and Games in the Street
Chris Latimer, Headteacher of Grange Primary Academy, said: “It was just incredible to see our pupils playing on the road and in such a safe environment. Thank you to everyone for helping make this happen. We can’t wait to do it again and hope this will inspire other schools to do the same.”
Alison Holland, Brightwayz founder, said: “This School Play Street has not just been fun, it has also been a showcase for parents and the wider community, illustrating just how much safer and nicer the area is for everyone if we can keep the school gates and area around the school clear of vehicles. It makes walking, cycling and scooting to school much more attractive if it feels safer.
“Although this was just for one day, we hope this play street will make parents realise how important it is to keep cars away from school gates all the time and do all they can to let their children walk, cycle or scoot at least some of the way to school every day. Thank you to all the neighbours too, who supported the event and were invited to come along and enjoy a cake, generously donated by the Co-op.”
A shout out too to Northamptonshire Sport, and Premier Sport, for running a host of fun games throughout the event.
What is a School Play Street?
Play Streets, first developed by parents on one street in Bristol who subsequently set up the community interest company Playing Out, has now been taken up by hundreds of communities all over the UK and beyond, supported by councils and local organisations.
A Play Street is when a road in a neighbourhood is officially closed to motor vehicles for a few hours so children can safely play in the street. Residents who need to access or exit by car can be safely led at walking pace by stewards but no through vehicle traffic is allowed. A School Street is a different kind of road closure - usually every day at the start and end of the day to keep vehicles away from school gates. This event was a combination of the two - with the road closed to vehicle traffic outside the school for a special session and the children allowed to play safely in the road.
Cllr Keli Watts, the new mayor of Kettering, popped in to say hi, picking up her granddaughter who attends the school’s nursery at the same time.
“I’ve never seen a School Play Street in action before and it really has been amazing,” said the mayor “It was such a privilege to be part of such a joyful event at a school that means so much to our whole family.”
It wasn’t just the adults that had glowing reviews.
- Evie Caswell , who is 10, said: “It’s been so much fun and we got to be free on the road, something we can’t usually do. The fire engine was amazing and I loved the cool bikes.”
- Ruby Ann Biddle, 10, added: “Blocking off the road to cars has been such fun. I got to play with my friends, doing fun races and playing with giant bubbles.”
- Lily-Mae Jones, also 10, said: “It was such fun and I played hopscotch.”
It was also a great opportunity for all of our Brightwayz office team to have a chance to get out and join in. We all certainly enjoyed it!
Find Out More About School Play Streets
Find out more about School Play Streets and Play Streets at www.playingout.net. Schools based in North Northants interested in organising activities to promote active travel and safer streets, such as School Play Streets, are invited to get in touch directly with us at Brightwayz. Schools in other areas of the UK are advised to contact Playing Out or their local council for support.
Look out for more information and examples of play streets and school play streets in our past and future blogs.
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