Bringing the city back to children——Exploring child-friendly cities
Why did I choose this theme?
During my childhood, my family was always worried about my safety, as there was no safe place to move around.My activities were confined to the house, and even when I went out, I needed my parents to watch over me, and I had several experiences of getting lost, an environment that frightened me.During that period, the rate of child trafficking in China increased year on year and still does to this day. Although China is committed to developing child-friendly cities, few projects have been substantively implemented and have failed to address the root of the problem.
In 1996, UNICEF and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme launched the initiative to create child-friendly cities, with the aim of creating a system of urban governance committed to upholding children’s rights.In the midst of rapid urbanisation, children, as such a large socially vulnerable group, are often disadvantaged in terms of spatial rights and neglected by traditional urban planning, which is psychologically and physically damaging and will affect them for the rest of their lives.
Therefore, the development of a child-friendly city is not about building a child-led city or neighbourhood, but about enhancing the child-friendliness of the original city or neighbourhood through certain measures to guarantee children’s spatial rights.
The multidimensional construction of a child-friendly city
Neighbourhoods and roads
Encouraging children to walk and cycle requires a suitable road system that makes it easy for children to cross the road and requires consideration of speed limits, widths and safety systems for roads.Adding a variety of facilities for rest, fun and play and an attractive street environment in pedestrianised streets provides opportunities for children’s play and social activities.
Photo credits：Children Friendly Neighbourhood, Baihua 2nd Road, (gooood.co.uk)
Space for children’s activities
The spaces are open space, semi-open space, dynamic space and static space. These high quality outdoor spaces have a positive effect on the touch, smell, sight, hearing, emotion, intelligence, language and behaviour of different children.
Photo credits: From Site to Place – Environmental Education Theme Children’s Playground Design
Therefore, there are opportunities and challenges for this theme across the country, and long-term, systematic planning is needed to achieve child-friendly cities and create a better and more harmonious living environment.
Reference:UNICEF: ‘Children in an urbanizing world’ [R], State of the World’s Children Report, 2012.
Zeng Peng and Cai Liangwa, ‘Research on safe neighbourhoods and exit paths under the concept of child-friendly cities – taking the Netherlands as an example’ [J], Urban and Rural Planning, vol. 11, 2018, pp. 103-110.
Tjeerd Deelstra，Eddie Kips，Een KiSS voor Childstreet -Een verkenning van de kindvriendelijke straat[R]. Delft，2009.