Playing Out: Making streets a place for children to play again

“Playing out” is something that children of the past and present have likely enjoyed and children of the future are likely to enjoy, but fact of the matter is, playing outside on the streets or in the local park is far less common these days than ever before.

The need for children to have free play close to their homes remains just as strong today as it did in the past, which is why the Bristol-based movement Playing Out has developed a universal model to get children playing out on the streets again. The Playing Out model involves neighbours closing their street to through traffic for a couple of hours, creating a safe space for children to play out.

The model is designed to give children a chance to play out freely and safely on their own street; build the conditions needed for street play to be normal again (safer streets, more connected communities, safety in numbers); and create a vision of streets as vibrant, playable spaces.

The community interest company, Playing Out, was set up in 2011 and have been instrumental in ensuring numerous play outs, but the organisation is also aware that it takes a major shift in public attitudes to make playing out the norm again. Playing Out say: “To come full-circle, ultimately, our aim is for playing out to be a normal everyday activity for all children, wherever they live, rather than an organised, supervised event. This is going to take a major shift in wider public attitudes, behaviour – as well as in government policy and maybe even the way we plan and design our streets and cities. We hope that what we are doing is a catalyst for change or at least, as part of a wider movement for children’s freedom to play, a nudge in the right direction.”

Thousands of people all over the UK are now actively involved in making their streets, neighbourhoods and cities more play and child-friendly using the playing out model.

To find out what’s happening where you live and if there are streets already playing out, check the Playing Out website. The Playing Out website is also a great resource for ideas and inspiration on childhood, play, community, shared use of public space and anything relating to children playing out more.

Image source: Playing Out Facebook page

Playing Out

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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