Many of us remember playing out after school and in the holidays; going round to call for a friend and
then joining others for ball games, skipping, or epic hide and seek. All ages were involved, with younger
brothers and sister’s tagging along, and sometimes revealing unexpected speed or skill – or a stash of sherbert lemons.
Nationally, there is a growing movement of people who want to restore the chance to play outside to a new generation of children. The projects involve opening a street for play, inviting participation by all the residents, and re-directing through-traffic. This is organised to last for a couple of hours, usually with stewards to make sure everything goes smoothly, and the dates are published in advance.
Locally, we have a keen campaigner who worked hard with councils to lay the foundations for successful Playing Out projects throughout the area: Kathryn Kay set up a pilot in 2013, and persuaded the council to reduce red tape, abolish the charge for street closure, and establish guidelines.
This summer, plans are underway again for Playing Out in Westcourt Road; Meg Fenn of Shake it Up Creative, describes the effect it has had; ‘We’ve been running Playing Out Westcourt Road in Worthing for four years now and it has become very popular with our immediate neighbours, other residents, and with families in nearby streets. We get people with and without children, who want to get to know their neighbours better, and families who are new to the area who want to meet people and make new friends. Parents of children with disabilities have met and formed support networks. Elderly neighbours who live on their own have expressed joy in seeing children playing outside and have taken the opportunity to spend time with people who live nearby. All of this helps to foster strong community ties and of course gives children the opportunity to play out in the street. We have chalk, games, skipping ropes, bubbles, and kids bring their scooters, bikes, footballs and sometimes we even have cupcakes or ice creams. It is a wonderful community tradition for Westcourt Road that we look forward to each season.’’
The planned dates are Sunday afternoons, 2-4pm, through April to the end of September.
Find out more on page 13 of our current issue.