23 North Tyneside streets to “play out” and celebrate World Car Free Day on Sunday September 22nd 2019
On Sunday September 22nd, PlayMeetStreet North Tyneside will be supporting 23 streets across the borough to temporarily close to through traffic, allowing children to play freely and neighbours to meet. This big day of playing out is organised to celebrate promote playing out in the borough, whilst also drawing attention to World Car Free Day and connecting to this global movement for healthier streets.
PlayMeetStreet North Tyneside – run by local mothers – is part of a national movement to enable more children to play out in their own streets, and more neighbours to meet. The idea of street play, or playing out, is, simply, for neighbours to get together every few weeks, after school or at the weekends, to meet and play in their street. Street play sessions are short, regular, stewarded road closures, approved by North Tyneside Council, giving children the chance to play safely near home, but also making the street feel safer and friendlier for everyone.
World Car Free Day is a global event to draw attention to the impacts of cars on our health and our communities and to encourage walking, cycling and playing on our streets. A number of cities across the UK are promoting street closures for playing out on that day, including boroughs across London. This year World Car Free Day comes just two days after the Global Climate Strike on September 20th when children and young people will be leading the way in drawing our attention to protest inaction on climate change.
Temporary street closures for play give children and young people – and their families and neighbours – a chance to experience traffic-free streets for a few hours, to meet and play freely, safely and in a healthier local environment. They allow children and young people to recognise and raise awareness of the benefits of car-free streets and the value of local action on traffic and pollution. Playing Out, the national organisation encouraging temporary road closures for play, have identified many links between action on climate change and promoting street play.
There are huge benefits to playing out – for physical and mental health, the environment, and community cohesion. Research demonstrates that children who play out in their own streets are three to five times more active during playing out sessions than they would be on a ‘normal’ day; the quality of the environment temporarily improves as air pollution drops with less traffic; and neighbours regularly report that they feel safer, more connected – in one 2017 survey, 91% said they know more people on their street as a result of playing out while 84% feel they belong more in their neighbourhood.
More than 50 North Tyneside streets have run one-off or regular ‘playing out’ sessions over the last few years; our longest-running streets have been organising regular closures for play for more than four years. We have streets involved in Whitley Bay, Tynemouth, Cullercoats, North Shields, Monkseaton, Wallsend, Longbenton, and Forest Hall. Each event is attended by aproximately 15 to 25 children of varying ages, their parents, grandparents and other carers, and other neighbours. Those streets have seen enormous benefits for children and adults. These are some of things those involved have said about their experiences:
“There’s a greater sense of community and belonging – people seem to look out for each other and there is a sense that it is ‘our street’”
“I think it’s an outstanding initiative and should be spread all over!”
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the kids to play out in the street, getting vital exercise and social skills. Great way to get to know the neighbours better too!”
PlayMeetStreet North Tyneside’s website (https://playmeetstreet.wordpress.com/) explains more about the benefits of playing out and sets out the steps required by new streets to start playing out. Press enquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to Alison Stenning (07970043418) or Jane Fahey (07714761880).
12th September 2019