Play power to take back the streets for children

By Kieran Hughes

A project aimed at helping young children reclaim their street as a play area came to a North Belfast community this week.

On Monday, Torrens Drive off the Cliftonville Road was closed for one hour to allow young people enjoy their own street without fear of traffic or having to walk long distances to the nearest playpark.

It was all part of PlayBoard NI and Let Youth Lead’s Reclaiming Streets project.

The groups identified practical, environmental and economic constraints which were restricting opportunities for local children to play outside.

In March 2011 the partnership carried out a survey of over 200 households within the Torrens development, focusing on residents attitudes towards play and the child’s place within the community.

Monday’s event was part of the first ever Reclaiming Streets project in the North.

PlayBoard’s Play Development Officer, Julie Holmes, who has been co-coordinating the ‘Reclaiming Streets’ play project said children with regular access to playable spaces are much more likely to enjoy childhood and grow up healthier and happier.

“We need to build parents’ confidence to let their children play outside, by tackling the real barriers such as traffic and the lack of good places to play. But we also need to communicate more positive messages about children in public space.”

Thomas Potter, Housing Officer for Fold Group which provides social housing in the Torrens area, welcomed the initiative. “It was great to see such a good turnout on Torrens Drive and Torrens Road last week. It was refreshing to see neighbours out talking and their kids enjoying themselves,” he said.

 

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