Won't Somebody Think of the Children?

Kids make up a big part of city populations. But often the built environment doesn't reflect a world planned with children in mind. This post from Polis looks at an effort to put children's needs back in the minds of planners.

The project is called the City of Children, and it's intended to remind city officials that kids are a part of the population and that planning with them in mind will help to make better adults.

"As its main objectives, the project seeks autonomy, participation, safety and mobility for children in the city, to make it possible for them to leave their home without being accompanied by an adult so that they can meet friends and play in public spaces of the city: from courtyards to sidewalks, from public squares to parks. Through children's proposals and ideas, participation in decision-making and realisation of their projects, the project aims at building a children's culture in the minds of adults and especially in administrators so that they know how to make their decisions, having interiorised children's thoughts and needs."

Full Story: Cities for Children?



Common play areas

Every neighborhood has to be designed to have common play areas- common greens with playing facilities. This provides a play space that assures opportunities for kids to socialize with other kids, and have facilities to play with-as opposed to kids always playing in isolation on their own purchased swingsets etc.

Full incorporation

There is a fantastic pattern (patterns, actually a few of them) in Christopher Alexander's book, A Pattern Language, that discusses weaving the children's world throughout the city, including a transport path touching all parts of the city and free of cars where children can explore the workings of their world. Playgrounds are fine, but I have seen too many neighborhoods with empty parks, only ground, no play. Children must be able to come and go at will and not be dependent on adults and car driving. Curitiba, Brazil has a great solution to this with their Lighthouse(s) of Knowledge, each stationed with a police officer so children and adults feel safe coming and going even after dark. A couple of years ago I was talking to a couple from Berkeley, CA who had developed a Wild Zones ordinance- playgrounds children are free to modify, dig holes, build forts, play in the mud, etc., which seems a very good idea as opposed to the static set of common and unmodifiable playground equipment. I am also reminded of Enrique Penalosa's idea that children are an indicator species, cities built to be good for children are good for everyone.


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