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Promoting the Basic Right to Play

Posted on 04/30/15 in SC Perspectives

Promoting the Basic Right to Play

(5.1.15) I like to open up meetings with this question:

Describe a meaningful experience growing up in your neighborhood.

The first thing that I notice is that people generally smile when I ask this question. On a whole, the stories that I hear in response to this question paint a picture of an active childhood filled with playing and socializing. I generally hear stories about playing sports or riding bikes, exploring the neighborhood and city, building something (a fort, tree house or bike ramp), block parties, or just spending time in a park.

Every time I ask this question, one thing becomes crystal clear: Our richest and most salient childhood experience were tied to the built environment. The built environment is defined as the human-made space in which people live, work and recreate on a day-to-day basis.

As a foundation, we clearly see the connection between the built environment and health*. To us, health begins and ends at home and in the neighborhood. Every day we ask ourselves: How can we enhance the built environment to promote health and to build a stronger community? How can we make our neighborhood more LOVEABLE (not just livable) through design and planning?

When I saw the City of San Francisco’s Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights (SFCOBR), I smiled. This bold document asserts that the ability to play and interact with the built (and natural) environment is a basic right.

According to the SFCOBR, every child has the right to:

· Explore all wild places in the city;
· Harvest and eat a fruit or vegetable;
· Plant a seed and watch it grow;
· Visit and care for a local park;
· Splash in the ocean or a bay;
· Play in the sand and mud;
· Discover urban wildlife;
· Sleep under the stars;
· Climb a tree;
· Ride a bike

My challenge to you is this: If you have children in your home or your life, do at least five items from this list in the next three weeks. Better yet, YOU should try to experience these things the second time around as an adult.

*Here are three projects that we are proud to say help to advance this basic right to play…

  • Pop-Up programming events, from ice cream socials and movie nights to outdoor concerts, led by partners throughout the Greater Buckeye area. LAND Studio is the project lead on this work.
  • NEOCyle Urban Youth Initiative in Greater Buckeye, which encourages and promotes bicycling as a healthy and environmentally friendly activity for youngsters.
  • Making Our Own Space (MOOS) is a collaborative effort between Cleveland youth, the Saint Luke’s Pointe Boys and Girls Club, East End Neighborhood House, local design professionals, and Alex Gilliam, founder of Public Workshop in Philadelphia, Pa. Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) is the project lead. Through hands-on outdoor workshops, students design and construct environments and playscapes in the Buckeye neighborhood that are appealing and usable to a broad cross-section of the community.

To learn more about the Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, click here.

Promoting the Basic Right to Play

Promoting the Basic Right to Play

Promoting the Basic Right to Play

By: Nelson Beckford
Senior Program Officer, A Strong Neighborhood
Saint Luke’s Foundation