Today’s Solutions: December 05, 2021

For many urban dwellers, getting a child to a playground or park is challenge enough, let alone a forest or wilderness setting. But the street and sidewalk are right there, waiting to be claimed. A group called Playing Out would like to see parents become more comfortable with letting their kids hang out in the street close to home. The group believes that every child should have the freedom to step out their own door and kick a ball about. It has created something called the ‘playing out’ model, where residents of urban streets can come together and get permission from the city to close off their street for up to three hours a month to allow children to play. These regular street play sessions can change the entire feeling of your neighborhood, not to mention kids’ lives. Here are 7 other reasons why playing on the street can be a good idea. First off, playing is crucial for mental and physical development. If the park isn’t always an option, then let the street be one. Second, the street is a blank slate. It holds hidden and evolving opportunities for imaginative play that a prebuilt play structure does not. Third, Children like to play near their homes and have traditionally done so. In fact, most parents probably have memories of doing it when they were young. Fourth, children need ample space to play energetically—something that apartment courtyards don’t have. Fifth, street play improves community cohesion. It brings people together across generations, races, and school districts. The sixth reason is that street play creates opportunities for growth. Being semi-supervised means kids have to deal with the situation on their own, helping to improve communication skills. Lastly, when a child does not have to rely on a parent to take them somewhere to play, it gives them more time to play outside.

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