I recently entered the UK's Landscape Institute competition called "A High Line for London". While I wasn't shortlisted, my topic dealt with children, nature and play and therefore thought it would be worth posting here.
Here's the proposal description:
“…........children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make the top of any conservationist’s list of endangered species if they were any other member of the animal kingdom…....” Tim Gill (2005)
By focusing on the most vulnerable citizens on our streets today, this proposal explores tackling the public realm on a local scale, using connectivity and the renaturing of the urban environment to be more conducive with the way children navigate the neighbourhood.
Child-centred neighbourhoods, as child-centred education suggests, put the needs of the children first, requiring them to be active, responsible participants in their own development. By encouraging children to choose and make local connections within the neighbourhood it also allows them more freedom to experience, explore and be creative.
The proposal suggests making the school, the park and the home the nuclei of the local community and identifying opportunities to link these to other community spaces. Using nature as the agency of change, one can retrofit the utilitarian aspects of the public realm to promote connectivity.
This would require a city wide investment in human/nature social capital through the renaturing of the urban environment, such as through the use of childlife corridors and the renaturing of derelict and underused spaces. As this will improve the freedom, connectivity and activity of the children, it follows that the health and wellbeing of the community will also improve."
Also check out the link above for the 20 shortlisted entries. Some interesting ideas.