A Playful City and ChangeX team up to bring more outdoor play back to Ireland’s cities and towns.
Many streets in towns and cities across Ireland are no longer used by children and their communities as they once were. Children and adults now spend more time in front of screens than outside, but with its initiative Playful Streets, the not for profit, A Playful City wants to change that. In order to turn this idea into a national movement, they’ve teamed up with ChangeX, the idea platform for community-led action.
The idea behind Playful Streets is simple and effective: Close down your street for a couple of hours to make room for chalk, skipping ropes, balls, bikes and more, and let children back out to play on their streets, as they once did.
In 2016, the Early Childhood Convention heard that two thirds of Irish children spend more time indoors than prisoners in maximum security prisons. It’s well documented that access to spontaneous free play, plays an essential role in developing children’s physical, mental and emotional well being, the benefits of which remain throughout their lives. On top of this, communities are becoming increasingly disconnected as they don’t have the same opportunities to meet and mix as they once did.
A Playful Street encourages people of all ages to come out of their homes and use the streets they live on for what they’re meant for; social interaction. Play can bridge gaps – with different generations mixing, teaching others the games they play or played and generally having fun.
“Sadly, many children in Ireland are not accessing free play in the outdoors anymore and it can be very detrimental to their well being. Playful Streets are meant to be a simple remedy to this issue, allowing communities to view their streets as a place that can be easily reimagined as a place for play. Remember Tip the Can? Red Rover, Red Rover? It’s time to let kids outside to play on their streets again, and, while we are at it, teach the kids the games we used to play!” says Neasa Ni Bhriain, Creative Director of A Playful City.
Having run a number of successful Playful Street events in Dublin, the team at A Playful City have figured out how to navigate issues like insurance, safety, engaging with your local Council or Gardaí and they’ve distilled this knowledge and experience into a simple guide for everyone who wants to start a Playful Street in their local area.
“When we first shared a video about play streets with our community, it got an overwhelming response.”, tells Niamh McKenna, Head of Impact at ChangeX “It’s often the simplest ideas that really resonate with people and this is one of them. It just makes sense. We wanted to make sure there was a model that could work here in Ireland and thankfully Neasa and the team at A Playful City had already been working on it and have created a fantastic Guide so that the idea is now ready to spread.”
The team at A Playful City is on hand to provide guidance and support for people who want to start the idea in their neighbourhood while ChangeX provides the online home for people to register their local event, download useful resources and connect with others interested in getting involved.
Organizations like UNICEF and the OCO (Ombudsman for Children) welcome the publication of the A Playful Street Guide. “It shows you in simple steps how to take over your streets, making your neighbourhood a fun, safe and imaginative space for children to play. By creating your own playful street, you’ll not only be fulfilling a child’s right to play, you’ll be building a stronger, more inclusive, child-friendly community.” says Vivienne Parry, Head of Advocacy, UNICEF Ireland.
And Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children adds: “The publication of the A Playful Street Guide is very much to be welcomed. It will help people to create a fun space in their locality, allowing children enjoy their right to play, the right to express themselves and the right to develop their talents.”
With the launch of Playful Streets on Change X, Ireland is joining the worldwide movement giving children back the freedom to play on their streets. Similar projects are running all over the world from the UK to Australia to USA.
“Partnering with ChangeX allows us to use a well-tested platform to build a community around Playful Streets and track closely how it spreads and what impact it has on communities” explains Neasa Ni Bhriain. “We are so passionate here at A Playful City about the right of children to play outside on their streets. It’s something we all grew up with and took for granted. We can’t wait to help people all over Ireland to bring it back.”
For more information visit www.aplayfulcity.com
To start a Playful Street people can register on www.changex.org/playful-street
To invest in the spread of Playful Street contact [email protected]