Should kids play on the streets of Leeds?
I love it when work meets life, life meets work.
My son has started playing out in the street. He’s six, and a few of his friends on the street started to playing out earlier this year. We resisted at first, as many parents do. But as many parents don’t, we relented. You can read more about it all in this guest post on the Playful Leeds site.
There’s been lots about this in the news recently, mainly based around some great work that a few people have been doing in Bristol. It got picked up by the BBC today, and I spotted that Radio Leeds were to be discussing it this afternoon. So I got in touch and offered to go in to chat about our street. Here’s an audioboo of some of the conversation
This stuff fascinates me. The play aspect fascinates me. I think, for so many reasons, it makes sense if kids can play out more in the streets where they live. More exercise, fresh air, socialising with friends, seeing and being seen by adults, getting to know their neighbourhood. I could go on…..
But I think it has wider impacts. It’s interesting that it’s taken my six year old to introduce me to people with whom I’ve shared a street for the last 18 months. But that’s what happens when you start spending more time out in your street. Conversations happen. Community builds, slowly.
And I also like how something as simple as play shines a light on how we think about our world. Fear. Risk. Danger. My rights against your rights. Me against you. Cars against play. What can appear as an inability, or a lack of desire, to compromise, to get along together, to accept that sometimes I might end up being slightly inconvenienced so that others can enjoy our shared space too. Does it need to be that way? I don’t think it does. But we’ve become accustomed to that way of life.
I’d love to do more on this in Leeds. I’m chatting to our neighbours, I’m chatting to our Councillors, and I’m doing all I can to learn from people like Playing Out and Play England. We may or may not end up temporarily closing our street. But whatever we do, trust me, we’re going to have some fun….