We all know that kids these days spend more time indoors (often on screens) and less time running around outside. If you’re a parent or carer frustrated by this trend, read on to learn how some parents are fighting back through a scheme called Playing Out.
What is Playing Out?
Playing Out was set up in 2009 by two mums dismayed that their kids couldn’t play out on the street like they did when they were growing up.
The pair asked their local council for permission to temporarily close their road to traffic to allow the children to play, run, skate, cycle and scoot in the street safely.
After a bit of paperwork and consultation, the first Playing Out session was held and was such a success that it became a regular fixture.
Since then, more than 500 streets in the UK have introduced similar schemes. Here’s how it works.
- To instigate a Play Street scheme, you must ask the council for permission to close the road for a few hours. If your council doesn’t have an official Playing Out policy, you can apply using the council’s Street Party policy.
- Playing Out sessions usually last for three hours. Volunteer stewards patrol each end of the street to ensure a rogue driver doesn’t ignore the road closure signs. If a resident in the street needs to use their car, a steward will walk ahead of the vehicle to ensure it’s safe.
- Some streets have occasional Playing Out sessions. Others opt for monthly events, while some keen beans do it weekly.
Playing Out Benefits
Health: The scheme encourages physical activity, and with childhood obesity at record levels, that’s got to be a good thing.
Friendships: Kids make friends and develop social skills.
Sense of community: Residents of all age groups can enjoy a natter and get to know each other better.
- The Playing Out website (playingout.net) offers a step-by-step guide to starting your own scheme. Save time by making use of their experience and expertise.
- Before applying to the council, speak to your neighbours. Discussing your plan with them is important as the whole point of Playing Out is that it’s inclusive.
- When you notify people about a session, remind parents that they must accompany their children and be responsible for their safety and behaviour.
- To keep things manageable, don’t publicise your Playing Out event too widely.
We think this is a wonderful scheme and hope that this particular trend takes hold across the UK!
Thanks for reading.