Streets are for People! Kids at Play in the UK

I love this video from Playing Out! (Thanks to Sarah Goodyear for sharing it along with her insightful post).

Take away all of parked cars and the parents milling about, and it could be a scene from my childhood.  Just a regular day in the neighborhood: packs of kids on bikes and skates, games of kick the can, or any other game you can imagine, and kids young and old playing together.

If I could, I’d make one tiny edit, I’d love to take a giant eraser and rub out all of the parked cars (and the parents). Wouldn’t it be better to see kids squealing and laughing while they scoot, pedal, jump rope and create chalk masterpieces in a street completely free of cars?

I guess the parked cars and the parents illustrate just how far we’ve fallen in thirty years.

More tips on how to get something like this going at Playing Out:

Playing Out is a not-for-profit information and advice resource for street play. We aim to increase children’s safe access to informal play in residential streets through: Directly supporting resident-led street play sessions; Running workshops for parents and residents; Coordinating a network of ‘street organisers'; Providing free resources and advice; Training play/community professionals; Communicating the benefits of street play; Working with policy-makers to enable street play.

Do you see scenes like this where you live? Do kids in your neighborhood play outside without parents?

 – Anne

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8 responses to “Streets are for People! Kids at Play in the UK

  1. This actually made me sad, because it’s so rare, and it should be normal. Our neighbors one block over petitioned the city to close off the street for something similar once a year. But not a lot of neighborhoods are sufficiently organized to do even an annual event. At least there are Sunday Streets.

  2. When I was growing up, we’d have “block parties” every summer (at least, I think it was every summer). The whole street would be blocked off and there was all sorts of fun: face painting, grills. It was a blast! I miss that, and this video reminded me of those times. Thanks for sharing.

    • Our neighborhood holds a block party every summer for Seattle night out.

      LMBikes said her block got a permit to close their street on Halloween night for a street party.

      This was the first I’d heard of block parties outside of the Seattle night out timeframe.

      I had no idea that Seattle allows Neighborhood Block Parties, with permited street closures, as often as once a month!

      Party on Seattle! Get those permits to close your street and let us know when to show up!

  3. How cool. During my junior high and high school years, my friends and I always played games in the street — street hockey, football, tennis. We never got the city’s permission or had the street closed. We just played. We’d have these giant games of hide and seek that would cover half the block. We played basketball in the alleys behind our houses.Even well into adulthood, my brothers and brothers-in-law and I would play football every Thanksgiving in the street next to my parents’ house. Alas, that ended 9 years ago when my parents moved. I can’t imagine kids today playing the street.

  4. I don’t see kids out alone much. My son’s 8 and just this weekend we were trying to figure out how far he and his 9 year old friend could roam unsupervised. They can be mischievous (sneaking through other people’s yards for example) so I limited them to a couple blocks but I’m still not sure just how much trouble they’ll get into.

    • Hi Serena, We did the same thing when we were kids (cut through yards etc). It was standard practice and even encouraged in our neighborhood. But times have changed, right!

      I often send our 9 year old out when he’s ‘bored’. He usually comes back quickly and reports that there’s no one outside.

      I guess we need to schedule neighborhood free play like everything else in our lives…

  5. Anne, thanks… brought me to my youth 30 some years ago. The only restrictions we had were to not cross a busy set of roads that created a rather large boundary. We used to ride our bikes with fishing poles attached to the top tube to the local pond & creeks and play for hours and hours. It’s rare to see kids outside anymore, and we’re guilty of the same as our daughter is always supervised at nearly 8 y.o. For us it’s a combination of lousy community planning, lack of proper infrastructure, distracted drivers, and the fear of predatory strangers.

    • Agreed. Fear is a big part of it our kids’ limited range these days. We give our daughter some freedom to walk and bike to events/friend’s houses, etc, but still freak out when we don’t hear from her for an hour. So much for being enlightened free-range advocates. But we’re trying .

      And thanks for the fishing pole memory — I totally did that. Though masking tape wouldn’t be my bike accessory strap of choice these days, it did just fine for attaching my crappy Zebco rod/reel combo to the top tube of my purple Schwinn Stingray for the 1-mile ride to Lk. Washington “bullhead” fishing!

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