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Bicycles and play

Bicycles and play

10 Good Reasons for Playing Out

  1. Children need to play. It is vital for their physical and emotional development and for their social learning. It is also a human right under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  2. Play England defines play as “what children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way and for their own reasons”. This implies a degree of freedom and independence, which cannot be satisfied by organised or over-supervised play.
  3. Children like to play near home and have traditionally done so. A 2007 poll found that 71% of adults played out on their street every day compared to only 21% of children today. (Play England). The main reason cited for not playing outside was traffic.
  4. Children need space to play energetically. Many city homes do not have gardens with ample space for broad physical activity. Parks are great but children don’t always have independent access to these so the street is a convenient place for everyday play.
  5. Playing in the street increases a sense of community by bringing neighbours of all ages together. It encourages feelings of belonging and shared responsibility. These qualities can increase the safety of the neighbourhood.
  6. It enables children to meet and develop friendships outside school and also increases contact between children and adults, helping to build up familiarity and trust.
  7. Through dealing with situations that arise independently, children can learn valuable social skills and gain understanding about the world around them.
  8. Playing in the street allows for ‘semi-supervised’ play. Parents can get on with responsibilities inside the house while allowing children to play outside. Children are far more likely to get a good daily dose of physical activity if allowed to play outside their home, rather than relying on parents to take them somewhere.
  9. The street is the “starting point for all journeys” (Tim Gill, 2007) and the ability to play out in the street is an important step towards greater independence and self-reliance. Children gain vital skills and confidence to visit friends, go to the park or walk to school on their own.
  10. Streets make up the major part of public space in the city. To limit them to being only places to drive and park cars is to massively undervalue them. Streets can and should be places where people can sit, talk, read, play and walk – and even sing and dance if they want to! The only way this will happen is if we start to use them differently.

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