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A 1972 View of Dutch Play Streets

posted this in Childhood, Community, Free Play, Neighbourliness on 12/12/2013

A tweet this morning from a Playing Out supporter (thanks @mum_on_bike!) shared a link to a unique, incredibly moving film made in 1972 documenting the efforts of a group of Dutch children to create a play street.

We hadn’t come across it before but it’s the kind of film that stops you in your tracks and has you reaching simultaneously for a tissue to wipe your tears and a notebook to write down some of the children’s quotes.

The cast of characters is fascinating: articulate, insightful, playful children are centre stage with quietly supportive adults acting as unobtrusive sponsors of the young people’s campaign to reclaim their streets from cars and have a space to play and belong.

Watch as children tenaciously lobby city planners to help them create a play street and divert traffic. The bent heads of the children and the suited city planner are shown huddled over street maps as they discuss action from the city authority. Neighbours gather on street corners to debate the notion of children being given permission to play in the street.

And what visual depiction of street play would be complete without a glimpse of the ranting driver who can simply not accept children’s rights to be in their city’s public spaces? The 1972 version was driving a VW camper van and his reaction to meeting a group of children and a road closure for play is compelling viewing.

Here is the link – make sure your tissues are to hand!

 

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