Street Play – helping communities reconnect with streets

Oxford - Hugh Warwick

Credit – Oxford – Hugh Warwick

Today we are very proud to announce a three year partnership between Play England, Playing Out, London Play and Bristol University to get kids out playing in their streets, neighbourhoods and the spaces near where they live. This programme is backed by the Department of Health as part of its drive to help children and young people to increase their activity rates.

Strong evidence, summarised in the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance ‘Start Active, Stay Active‘, shows that active kids become active adults. Last year the University of Bristol did a pilot evaluation of children’s activity rates on streets that purposely closed down for two or three hours to let kids play, and found (perhaps not surprisingly!) that kids on those streets were outside and playing more actively (running, skipping, rollerskating…) than kids normally do after school in that sort of area.

When we asked parents and kids in a poll for Playday 2013 we found that traffic has now overtaken ‘stranger danger’ as the number one reason parents don’t let kids out, and that children say they can’t go out.

However, the survey also shows that play has the power to bring communities together; with 40% of adults saying that children playing out where they live improves community spirit, and almost half (45%) saying it helps families to get to know each other.

All it takes is one or two families to take the first step; with 60% of parents saying they would feel confident to let their kids play out if others were playing too.

Gabrielle De Pauw, Hackney Street Play

Gabrielle De Pauw, Hackney Street Play

Now in some areas – Bristol, Waltham Forrest, Oxford, Hackney to name but a few – residents have taken action and opened their streets up for children to play in. For some that means closing their road temporarily to through-traffic, for some its an agreement that kids WILL chalk on the pavement, for some its a ‘play priority area‘ sign in the car park.

Other neighbourhoods are sitting up and taking notice.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be showcasing many of their stories – and we’d love to hear from you if you have a street play story to tell.

This national Street Play programme will

  1. Campaign locally and nationally to increase acceptance of and stimulate demand for ‘street play’ as well as  promote street play options, sharing what is working already in communities, is cost-effective and sustainable
  2. Support parents and communities nationally to kick start resident-led street play through providing guidance and support online
  3. From the autumn we’ll be supporting residents and communities in up to 9 target areas with poor health outcomes to activate street play in their neighbourhoods, working through locally based organisations and advising local authorities on the policies and processes that can cost effectively increase children’s activity locally

You can find out much, much more about how you can practically make your street, car park or neighbourhood a more play-friendly place by looking at:

Playing Out

                                                London Play

                                                                                                Play England

And through the hashtag #StreetPlay on Twitter and Facebook.

Through Love Outdoor Play we’ll keep you up to date on the campaign, and on the successes – and challenges – of communities across the country who are challenging the dominance of the car locally and giving kids in their communities back their childhood.

Street Play – it’s where it’s at 😉

4 Responses to “Street Play – helping communities reconnect with streets”
  1. shiatsu says:

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  2. Andy Grout - CEO Milton Keynes Play Association says:

    Reblogged this on Milton Keynes Play Association.

  3. Well done Play England. Heard you on Radio 4 this morning Cath. Very good. I am street playing today in Hele Torquay with our 3rd playday of the summer holidays, a real community event! Theo Tanser Play Torbay

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] a new partnership has been announced that will bring together play organisations and academics to get kids playing in the streets and […]

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