Even with committed stewards and stalwart residents, it can be challenging to keep playing out throughout the gloomy winter months. Many streets with permission for regular monthly, fortnightly or weekly sessions tend to give playing out a miss when the clocks change and the evenings get dark earlier.
Of course children’s energy levels remain the same (usually high!) all year round and so there’s still the question of how to give them some physical activity and fun close to home. And lots of parents, carers, and older residents miss the chats and contact that meeting on the street gives.
Here are some creative ideas which we’ve come across to keep streets alive, fun and attractive when the hibernation instinct strikes. These have all been gleaned from people in their own areas so thank you for sharing your quotes, photos and reports on our Facebook groups, by email and in conversations.
Make Your Street a Place to Glow!
Kate Staniforth is a co-organiser on her street in Easton, Bristol – the 50th street in Bristol to start regular playing out. She says:
“We felt it was important to carry on playing out during the winter months when the kids are usually more cooped up inside. We had one session with torches and sparklers which was great…some kids had never had a sparkler before so it was really special. After that we had a ‘glow in the dark theme’ session. This was a massive success. Me and another mum brought two packs of glow sticks. Some kids had torches and we tried to make glow in the dark bubbles. The children LOVED it. They ran round, did road chalking, played swords with the glow sticks and made massive bubbles. It was so worth getting out there and playing out in the dark!!’
And here’s what some children on Kate’s street felt about it:
Ben said, “I have been looking forward to our dark playing out all week.’”
Esme said, “I liked that we were doing glow in the dark stuff with the torches.”
Other streets and culs-de-sac have been doing similar illuminated play – and it’s provided a way for children to have fun and burn off energy – sometimes just using the pavement space when there haven’t been enough stewards around to do a full playing out session.
Elsewhere, whole streets and neighbourhoods have joined together to create beautiful window displays designed to be enjoyed by pedestrians viewing them each day during advent. A festive windows trail has been put together by residents in the Totterdown area of Bristol and co-ordinated by the local residents’ and community organisation TRESA. It’s a wonderful way to bring people out of their houses and enjoy the streets in the depths of winter.
And to remind us all of how streets become instant, beautiful playable spaces for all ages when the snow falls, here’s a wonderful film made in Hackney a couple of winters ago.
Have you have done anything to beat the winter hibernation and stay active in your street during the winter ? Do you have a moment to share your thoughts and ideas by leaving a comment below or emailing us?