Until now, action to improve the lives of children and young people has tended to focus on the institutional spheres of home and school. Yet quality of life also depends on the access to and quality of shared resources such as streets, parks, town centres and playgrounds. And here, in the everyday spaces of our towns and cities, we increasingly exclude and marginalise the young. In the pursuit of sustainable communities and urban renaissance, children and young people are too often left out of the script.
Children and young people have limited independence – both financially and spatially –and depend on shared spaces more than others. With trends in Britain pointing towards less outdoor play, increased parental anxiety and less tolerance for children and young people, the impact of an unwelcoming public realm on their health and well-being is becoming increasingly clear.
Seen and Heard: Reclaiming the public realm with children and young people draws on six case studies to explore the everyday experiences of children in public. It argues that we need a paradigm shift in the way we think about the built environment- one which addresses the deepening segregation between generations. The needs of the young are not opposed to those of other users of public spaces, but closely aligned. With a range of recommendations designed to empower frontline professionals and young people, this pamphlet offers practical steps to create communities that are welcoming for all.