Ideas on how green spaces and parks can become more accessible

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Mar 21, 2017
by Oscar Tollast
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Ideas on how green spaces and parks can become more accessible

Fellows review what children are looking for from protected areas and green spaces and what need to change Participants created a number mind maps during The Child in the City to help expand their ideas [Photo: Ela Grieshaber]

There are several ways as to how parks and protected areas can better meet the needs of children. However, to begin with, there is perhaps a greater need to identify how these areas can become more accessible, and what changes are required to ensure children can spend more time in nature.

Participants at The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play have been asked to consider what individuals and organizations can do to develop more child-friendly parks and protected areas. They have also asked themselves what the children involved actually wanted.

Regarding the latter, the ideas which came forward varied in detail, from short responses such as fun, freedom, and risk taking, to detailed responses outlining concepts such as “The Right to Play.” In the eyes of participants, they believed children wanted safe public spaces which were decriminalized and provided opportunities to express their interests and desires.

Some participants suggested through their ideas that greater focus should be paid to children’s creativity. One participant said children’s play should be observed to capture what they want, while another participant said they should see children as active agents who can bring about change themselves.

Adults were viewed as an obstacle by one participant, who called for them to behave more like children to allow fun and learning to continue.

To ensure these changes are possible, participants considered what steps could be made. Their ideas covered areas from accessibility and education.

Children could become more familiar with nature and green spaces by including them in their day-to-day lives more often. They could spend their lunch break on green schoolyards, bring nature into classrooms with plants, and finish at an earlier time in the afternoon to allow more time to be outside. Nature can play a stronger part in the school experience, right from Kindergarten. These ideas require the support of parents, schools, and city officials.

Outside of school, there could be intergenerational design sessions involving parents and children, allowing people of all ages to have community ownership of a public space. Children and adults can be encouraged to become “citizen scientists,” monitoring the nature that exists around them.

Another actionable step is to maximize the use of existing assets in the city, such as temporarily using land which remains unused for creative and fun purposes.

Individuals and organizations need to work together to ensure children feel safe in these open spaces. This could be achieved by asking children what frightens them and valuing their opinions. Parents’ and guardians’ fears should also be noted and listened to.

These ideas and others will continue to be worked on as participants look for equitable, practicable, and cost-effective solutions which involve children.

Read more here in our session newsletter.

Download Issue 1 as a PDF


The Salzburg Global program The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play is part of the multi-year Parks for the Planet Forum, a series held in partnership with the IUCN and Huffington Foundation. The session is being supported by Parks Canada and Korea National Park. It is being sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/574 - You can follow all the discussions on Twitter by following the hashtag #SGSparks

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