As well as all the immediate benefits from play streets – children’s health and wellbeing, community cohesion, active citizenship – the ‘playing out’ model was always intended as a way to start changing the culture for children and streets longer-term.
There is a long way to go until all children have freedom to play out where they live – and it will take much more than play streets to achieve this, including safer streets and a widespread shift in attitudes about children playing out. But play streets can help raise awareness and support for these bigger changes.
They can also start to build the right conditions for playing out to be normal within a street/estate community: children/play more visible, parents more confident, neighbours more known/trusting, drivers more aware. We do know that things have started to change like this on some individual streets so that formal play streets sessions are less needed and it’s normal for children to play out every day.
This is how we see play streets helping to bring about a bigger culture-change for children: