An international movement
The Playing Out movement and play street model has inspired action in many different countries. Here are just some of the initiatives supporting children’s right to play out across the world.
Since early 2016, parents from Rae Street in Perth have been running regular play street sessions based on the Playing Out model, with the support of the City of Vincent. Resident-activists are working towards building a neighbourhood where kids are free to play out and have set up this Facebook group. Rae Street also appeared in this article in the Australian Sunday Times in Jan 2019.
Nature Play Australia in Queensland got in touch to say: “WOW. I have just been going through your website, your story and your resources. It is very inspirational…well done starting this initiative that is rippling across UK and the globe.” They recently completed a neighbourhood play project and are keen to do more to promote playing out as a normal part of Australian community life.
Encouraged by local play advocate Gavin Fairbrother, Campbelltown City Council in South Australia is also supporting play streets. Gavin said, “I am passionate about the power of street play as a reminder for children, families and decision makers of the importance of free unstructured play, independent mobility of children and healthy, safe urban neighbourhoods”.
Co-Design Studio, based in Melbourne, ran a pilot play street project in 2016-17 and told us, “This is the first formal play streets program in Australia, inspired by you!”. They developed a Tookit closely based on our manual and are now part of a nationwide project co-ordinated by Play Australia, aimed at getting 1000 play streets happening across the country, with funding from Sport Australia.
Playing Out was also featured in CHILD magazine (Australia’s biggest parenting magazine), and this Sydney council has recently announced a play streets trial, saying, “The idea of ‘play streets’ is to give our kids a taste of the kind of play we remember from our childhoods – by providing a safe and fun outdoor play space for kids in a home environment – right outside the front door.” Go Australia!!
Play streets in Ghent during school summer holidays resulted in research showing the increase in children’s activity levels when streets are closed. You can read more here.
The Living Streets project in Ghent gives residents “the opportunity to create the street of their dreams by temporarily banning or partially banning cars from the street”. Child in the City covered the project here.
Leticia, a resident of Sao Paulo, founded an NGO called SampaPé! (São Paulo on Foot), whose aim is to make people walk more, use the streets, be more interested in and responsible for public spaces.
She got in touch on Facebook to say, “Exactly with the topic of “playing out”, we have started a mobilisation in Sao Paulo asking to “open” one of the most important avenues in the city as a leisure avenue on Sundays, just for people (without vehicles). And we have already got 2 days as a test and it was just amazing”.
Playing Out is also featured in an article in Crescer (Brazil’s biggest parenting magazine) on global examples of street play. Read it here!
Street play – and particularly street hockey – is a strong Canadian tradition, but one that has diminished hugely for the same reasons it has everywhere else. In some places it has even been made illegal. Luckily, people and organisations are fighting this and trying to restore children’s right to play out on the street.
Earthday Canada, based in Toronto, have set up a street play project very closely based on our model and have consulted us on best practice. The project was featured in this 2017 BBC News video about how the Playing Out movement is spreading internationally!
There is also an organisation called KidActive who encourage street play in Canada. They got in touch to say, “Your concept is brilliant…we would love to highlight your initiative.” (Shawna, KidActive)
Live & Play Burlington Families in Ontario have also created a play street programme in the City of Burlington based on the Playing Out model. It offers weekly street closures starting in spring 2019 and their website has clear helpful information on how to get started in your neighbourhood!
Play streets are now also starting up in Quebec – see some of the media coverage here.
Other feedback from Canada includes,
“Thank you for your inspiration and play activation.” Edna-May, Facebook
“I am really excited about your work! I am going to try and make it happen in Vancouver.” Gowa Kong, Twitter
“I’m an early childhood educator and play researcher… Your site is wonderful, The Playing Out project is amazing and your work is creative, important and inspiring. Thank you so much for what you’re doing.” By email, Toronto
In 2017 Playing Out was asked to partner with Udruga Igra (Association Play) on a street play project in Croatia. We would love to hear more about anything happening there!
In March 2016, Daniella gave a talk about Playing Out (in French!) at a national conference in Paris – Rues Pour Tous – organised by the organisation Rue de L’Avenir, who campaign for more child-friendly streets across France. They celebrated a two-year project where councils and community groups across France opened streets for play and published an international history of play streets here. The project has been extended into 2020 with several ‘streets for children’ happening across France, find out more here.
We also had this great message on Facebook: “Hi I am a French architect we ‘re try to create a closed street for Children in Paris so I see other experiences all over the world. This is how I found your wonderful website.”
We would love to hear about anything else happening in France!
Cornelia, from the parent-led Spielstrasse Campaign in Berlin, visited us in early 2018. She said they had had a real battle trying to get council support, due mainly to some very strongly opposed residents, but after her visit to Bristol she felt re-inspired to continue fighting!
In September 2019, we received this update: “…there is good news from Berlin – the first playstreet has started in August! For the opening even the city councillor for traffic came. So for the first time the playstreet sign has been installed in this city!! It’s still a long way but I hope there will be many more….”
In September 2020 for World Car Free Day, 25 play streets took place across Berlin. Cornelia said “Two years ago this was all unthinkable…I am very proud and happy.
And it wouldn’t have happened without you.”
Take a look at this Facebook page for play streets in Berlin to see what’s been happening there recently.
Other positive responses from Germany include:
“Congratulations on all you have already achieved! Brilliant and So worthwhile for very many really important reasons.” (Ellen Weaver, Frieburg University)
“You are wonderful! So often when I look at my street, I imagine exactly what I now found out you are making happen! I would love to connect and see how things would work over here. But thanks already for the material, I feel ready to dare a try.” Uta, Berlin. By email.
A Greek organisation called Paizontas contacted us in 2015 for advice about starting a play street project:
“Next week we are presenting for funding a program called “Alive Neighborhoods”, inspired by your work. We are planning to organize 6 street play days in the city of Athens, with support from local authorities. It will be an asset for our proposal if you would offer our support and guidance.” Konstantinos, Paizantos
We would love to hear any more about what is happening in Greece!
We can’t claim to have inspired this one but it seems right to include it here! ::aProCh:: is an initiative working to create a child-friendly city in Ahmedabad, India where every child has the freedom to explore, derive fun and joy, and feel safe while doing so.
Watch this great video from their website!
We have been in conversations with various people in Cork and Dublin councils who have tried to get ‘playing out’ going over the years. A Green Party candidate posted a video of Cork streets on Facebook and we hope to hear soon that the councils there have a play streets policy in place!
A Playful City, also based in Dublin, are a not-for-profit organisation supporting play streets and other community initiatives to reclaim public space. They have adapted our manual and materials to create their own toolkit for play streets and are hoping to spread the model across Ireland.
Supported by the British Council, Alice and Ingrid gave a talk about Playing Out at an international conference in Turin in January 2019, organised by radical architecture practice Laqup.
Feedback from delegates included:
“We have a new understanding, for example that it is possible for parents in Chieri and other places to get together and create something like ‘Playing Out’.”
“For us the ‘Bristol formula’ is certainly one it would be good to try”
“The possibility of an initiative where streets can be specifically dedicated for children to play in.”
‘Un campetto per giocare’ have made this song to support children having access to safe spaces to play in Verona
We hope to hear more about play streets in Italy soon!
Tokyo Play, Japan’s leading play organisation, visited us in 2014 and 2016, and have since set up the Playborhood Street Tokyo Project, encouraging people and neighbourhoods to stay connected through play.
From 2018, Playborhood are supporting Shibuya City Council in their initiative’s new project, facilitating people in opening up public spaces in their neighbourhoods – streets!
Playborhood, supported by HSBC, is now in it’s fourth year, and have more than 40 resident-led projects in Tokyo. Take a look at their Street Play Guidebook in Japanese.
In Guadalajara, Mexico they have been closing roads to traffic on a regular basis since 2014.
Take a look here La Via Es De Todos!
We were visited in 2014 by street performer and artist Stephen Templer who wanted to bring the playing out model in New Zealand.
A piece on New Zealand’s Radio Live about a campaign in the town of Palmerston on the North Island to encourage children to spend more time outdoors featured parent Heather Knox, who is behind the Palmy Dirty 30 campaign, and gave Playing Out a mention as inspiration behind her efforts.
In September 2019, this blog piece was published and Radio NZ featured the story.
In 2020 Waka Kotahi and Sport New Zealand released draft play street guidance which were then tested by councils and regional sports trusts through working with communities to run play street events across the country. Waka Kotahi have been helping to lessen the barriers and challenges that sit within the transport sector.
Other NZ feedback includes:
“Love what you have done. Really needed to happen. I will be working to get an NZ example of playing out going down here. Love the film -real inspiration. Good on you Britain! Be proud of what you started!”
Tom, Waiheke Island New Zealand
Playing Out has been in touch with an individual who runs a Facebook group, Bring Nature Back to the City, with fantastic child-friendly city photos – take a look here!
An Norwegian organisation called Barnas Boligbyggere got in touch to ask:
“Is it possible to adopt the idea in other countries? We are a Norwegian non-profit organisation working with children’s rights in city planning. As you have already developed a concept that really works it would be interesting to check-out the interest amongst authorities and parents in Norway”.
We said yes, of course, and hope to hear more soon!
A parent in Lisbon got in touch in 2018, saying she wanted to start ‘playing out’ in her community and asking if she could translate our website into Portuguese! We discussed it and agreed that a good starting point would be for her to set up a Facebook page, which she did – take a look!
She has since worked with some other parents to gain support from their local council and set up the Brincar na Rua project.
A Portuguese play organisation, Ludotempo, contacted Playing Out wanting to learn best practice;
“Hello there! I’m writing to you on behalf of Ludotempo – Associação de Promoção do Brincar. We’ve been following you for some time now and we admire your work. We believe we have much to learn with your practice.” Francsico, Facebook.
There’s a lovely video here from a Portuguese student on childhood and play.
A parent in Romania has started organising ‘playing out’ and set up a Facebook page in Romanian.
Open Streets Cape Town runs campaigns, temporary interventions, dialogue and actions that spark debate and awareness about the role of streets in the life of Cape Town – including opening streets for play!
They share the ethos with Play Africa that in the future more streets will be this way by default, and aim to create neutral spaces for all.
Visit their website here.
In May 2018, Alice and Ingrid were invited to give a talk about Playing Out at festival for street reclaiming in Bilbao in the city’s outskirts. The 2-day event for Te Veo en la Calle (I See You in the Street) included community-led site responsive theatre and Spain’s first ‘playing out’ session!
There’s a great film of the event, and wonderful feedback from the organiser: “Your project is soooo simple but soooo interesting and necessary. A lot of attendants told me that they got very inspired from your presentation and the street action. (And when it comes to me, personally, I am thinking of developing “a playing out” action in my own neighbourhood!)” Nerea, Hortzmuga Teatroa.
An individual wanted to use Alice’s TED talk for a 30kph campaign in his hometown (Plataforma Albacete 30).
“Hi from Mallorca. I am really impressed. I think you are doing an incredible work: transforming cities into cities for people”. Alejandra, Facebook
In 2018, we were visited by Christine, a mother and journalist from Taiwan, who has set up PPfCC, a Street Play Advocacy Group.
Christine wrote an article about the growth of the Bristol model and benefits of street play and said;
“Play has always been underestimated in our culture and society […] we were somehow in a bottleneck phase until we saw a superwoman in the Playing Out video last year. From the Playing Out experience, we were inspired to have a new approach – Street Play – to encourage Taiwan adults to look closely how children play and how important children play…”
Playing Out was featured on Taiwan’s InNews discussing Christine’s street play initiative in the city. You can view the full clip here, from 3 minutes 10 seconds.
You can also hear Christine talk on a BBC World Service programme with an update on Playing Out’s international links (5 minutes and 6 seconds in).
We were contacted by Gizem Kiygi in 2018, who said: “I just saw your BBC video and it is really inspiring!”
The Instanbul-based urban planner is also co-founder of Kent ve Çocuk (City and Children), an initiative focuses on children’s rights to space in Turkey by organising city-model, space-thinking workshops with children.
Gizem wrote this article based on her conversation with Alice.
In the early days of Playing Out, we were inspired by things already happening in the US, including:
78th Street Play Street in Jackson Heights, New York. This story shows how community-led initiatives can lead to meaningful, permanent change. Residents started by regularly opening their street for play and have now managed to get a . permanent road closure, transforming the road into a place for community and play. Watch a great film here!
Playborhood, Mike Lanza’s inspirational one-man campaign to restore neighbourhood play.
Free Range Kids, the movement set up by Lenore Skenazy to counteract ‘fear-culture’ surrounding children and parenting.
Streetsblog On-line community and blog for people wanting to make streets safer and more sustainable in various US cities.
Read about this amazing lady in the Bronx !
New York Play Streets – A historical top-down approach to enabling children to play out in streets closed to traffic, supported by the police athletic league, and then the parks department. More recently the idea has come under threat but there is a resurgence of resident-led initiatives (see below).
More recent US play streets initiatives:
Los Angeles – Kounkuey Design set up a street play project in LA after hearing about Playing Out: “Just a note to say we have taken inspiration from your Playing Out initiative, we are currently working on our own related proposal in LA”
Philadelphia – Play Streets are now a common sight in the summer months.
We’ve had loads of other great feedback from people across the States over the years, like this:
“I have been so inspired by your efforts! Your website is fantastic. It’s just what my city needs! I am hoping to create something like you have by starting with my block and hoping it will catch on…thanks a ton! Congratulations on such a successful programme!”
Please let us know of anything else happening in the States!