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Reclaim streets for play!

(11 Posts)
Streetmum Wed 05-Jan-11 10:01:46

The recent Mumsnet survey (featured on ITV's Tonight programme) found that 78% of us think our children do not get to play out enough. We have started a project (also featured in the programme) to try to address this. Please have a look and let us know what you think: http//

sloggies Sat 08-Jan-11 16:28:40

It's a wonderful idea in theory, but aren't the logistics of getting a road closed part of the day really complex?

Streetmum Mon 10-Jan-11 12:24:59

Hi Sloggies,

It's really not that complicated (depends a bit on where you live). A little bit of work involved, mainly in consulting neighbours, but well worth it to make people stop and think about whether we really want our streets to be just for cars, or whether they can actually be places for all sorts of social activity - including play. Would be great to find out what other Mumsnetters think but I can't work out how to get a discussion started. Any help appreciated!

Streetmum Mon 10-Jan-11 12:25:48

Web link again: http//

earwicga Mon 10-Jan-11 12:29:56

Playing Out

looplou Mon 10-Jan-11 12:46:44

I've read the website and agree wholeheartedly with the 'play is important' and 'community' rhetoric. However I would argue that children need to learn how the real world works and adapt to work within it (i.e. how to play outside with the cars etc.) and as for having organisers and stewards, shouldn't play be an organic and natural thing that grows with the children not constantly led by adults which is what they have so much of the time anyway (more about discovery?).
In addition to this as a working mum I would feel so left out of a project like this because I could only become involved on a peripheral level.
This hasn't crossed my mind at all until I read this thread, but IMHO the focus should be on sensible environmental planning with safe/secure play areas for all people/ages with a mixture of open and activity spaces rather than just street play.

Streetmum Tue 11-Jan-11 11:44:52

Looplou we totally agree that play should be unstructured and child-led. With Playing Out, the idea is that adults just provide the space/opportunity for play - there is nothing else 'organised'. The role of the stewards is just to sit at either end of the road to re-route car drivers and reassure parents that younger children won't wander off.

We see this as a step towards the longer term goal of much safer, more liveable/playable streets and neighbourhoods where children are less reliant on being taken to play spaces by adults, and there is more of a balance between cars and people.

In terms of working parents feeling left out of this type of scheme, it's a really good point to make. One thing you could do is see if neighbours are interested in having a street party at the weekend - kids will have a similar experience of play in the street and you can be more involved. Go to http// for more info.

GooseyLoosey Tue 11-Jan-11 11:48:29

Last year, the village I live in particiated in the "Big Lunch" which meant that all the roads were closed for street parties for about 5 hours.

It was fantastic. Ds (7) went out on his bike with his friends and I didn't see him for 2 hours. There was no traffic and everywhere he went there were his friends and their families out in the street. He loved it. I was slightly scared but decided to let him go as on balance the risks were minimal.

If we had a world where this could happen more often, it would be brilliant.

Blu Tue 11-Jan-11 11:51:22

I saw something about this on TV last week, and was LOLing at the fact that the street had been closed off to encourage free independent play - and all the Mums were out there with the kids!

Whe we went off to play we went off on our own, no parents, from about 7 onwards!

However our road was closed off f a street party this suer and it was fab - created a great community spirit, lots of people got to know each otehr - which in itself promotes a community in which children can go off to the park on thier own.

PaisleyLeaf Tue 11-Jan-11 11:51:56

Sounds good. I was playing out for most of my childhood while my parents just left the front door on the latch and got on with their normal lives - not like nowadays where we take our DCs out a lot. I
I guess another good thing is that we maybe did terrorise the neighbourhood a bit blush: knock down ginger, yelling etc and with this organised thing, you need everyone on board for it to work - so if it is in any way pesky to other residents it simply won't happen.

Streetmum Fri 14-Jan-11 13:57:08

Glad to get a discussion going! Blu - I expect that was our scheme on the ITV programme (see website above). Our long term goal is totally that we can get to the stage where parents are confident enough to send their kids out to play independently from a reasonable age. The problem is that (at least around where I live) there is simply no culture of that any more. That is why we thought it would be a good first step to get parents and kids out into the street seeing what it could be like (without cars speeding through), giving kids a chance to experience playing in their street (which they loved and were pretty oblivious to the parents standing around) and giving parents a chance to talk about the issues. Obviously there's a way to go to achieve to long-term aim of the streets being safer and more conducive to play, but these road closures at least get people thinking and talking, and make the need for safer streets visible.

PaisleyLeaf - You've hit the nail on the head. We take our kids to places/activities partly to compensate for the fact that we can't just send them out to play! Re. everyone having to agree to close the road it's not a problem we've faced doing this in 6 different streets. A few people have objected (as always will) but overall people have been really into the idea. I don't think this should stop you doing something that is for the benefit of the majority (it's not just kids and parents who benefit - many older residents love these events too as a chance to meet neighbours and talk about the old days). When did we ever get asked if we wanted our streets to be dominated by cars to the extent that children could no longer play out?!

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