Children, risk and trust

Street play 8We need more risk when bringing up our children. Riding bikes around the block, climbing trees, paddling in the sea. These are good things, simple things and powerful things.

Like much of my work with Revolutionary Arts, the decision to let my children play outside is all about reclaiming public space. It’s making the streets democratic. They don’t belong to home owners or car drivers, but to everyone that lives in them. This is nothing new, as back in the 1950s Jane Jacobs argued for children to be able to play on pavements and streets. Attempting to create secure, isolated courtyards or gated play areas is futile, she said:

No normal person can spend his life in some artificial haven, and this includes children.

And because I love free outside play, I’m not a fan of indoor play, which tends to be dull because it’s so safe, and feel tatty because it’s cheap. My children were getting bored of indoor play by the time they could walk! But these Luckey Climbers structures are a great way to do it. Putting our trust back in children and creating high quality indoor play seems like a good complement to reclaiming the pavements.

We live in a risk-adverse society where the idea of trust is dumbed down. This minimizes risk and … we worry so much about the intent to sue that we deprive ourselves.

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