An inspiring short film promoting Hackney’s project to enable children to play on the streets outside their homes and schools has been launched.
The three-minute film, commissioned by Hackney Council in partnership with Hackney Play Association, documents all the fun and thrills of Play Streets and is designed to inspire more parents and schools to get involved.
Play Streets allow parents and neighbours to temporarily close their road to through-traffic so that youngsters can play and adults can get together with their neighbours.
Produced by Motherbrown Films, it was filmed at three of the 31 Hackney roads taking part in the scheme and shows children happily reclaiming their streets to enjoy simple games like skipping, chalking, hopscotch and riding bikes. Parents are seen chatting together and joining in with the play too. It also features interviews with participants.
It will be used to demonstrate the idea to parents and schools with screenings in community locations like schools and children’s centres, and promoted via social media.
In 2012 Hackney became the first London borough to enable Play Streets sessions. For the last year the Council has funded development work by Hackney Play Association to increase uptake across the borough.
Hackney Play Streets has been recognised by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) as an example of good practice in getting children active and for its community-building impact. The film will be officially launched at the BHF Annual Conference on 20 November.
Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods in Hackney, said: “We have lots of beautiful, accessible parks and green spaces but we want to give children as much opportunity to play outside as possible and encourage them to be as active as possible.
“We have a strong sense of community here in Hackney and this is a cost-effective way of encouraging young people to play outside and neighbours to get to know each other.”
The benefits of street play sessions have also been highlighted in a recent report published by the Children’s Play Policy Forum – The Play Return, by Tim Gill.
Some 150 Play Street and estate play sessions took place from October 2013 to September 2014 involving around 1,600 children. Along with the borough’s innovative cycling work, Play Streets helped the borough scoop top prize in the 2014 London Transport Awards. Hackney has advised several other boroughs on how to go about introducing Play Streets, and hosts a pan-London Play Streets Group.
Residents volunteer to organise Play Streets, which can take place weekly, monthly or less often, for up to three hours. Teams of neighbours who volunteer to steward the closures help them.
Primary schools and a children’s centre are also taking part in the idea with the PTFA and/or staff members running the events. Residents are still allowed vehicle access, driving at walking pace and escorted by a steward, after children had been safely cleared from the street.
You can also view the film and download a Play Streets application pack here www.hackney.gov.uk/play-streets
For more information on Play Streets and how Hackney Play Association can help you get started, visit www.hackneyplay.org/street-play
Also go to Playing Out – the not-for profit-organisation working nationwide to support children being able to play out in their neighbourhoods. Their website offers free, downloadable resources and useful information.
Claudia Draper, Hackney Play Association
Helen Clarke, Hackney Council
Tel: 020 8356 3539
Out of hours press office: 07528 969 363