by Jay Unger
Kids across Leeds are being encouraged to play out in the street with the support of a Hunslet based children’s charity.
By working with the council to close off roads, children’s charity Leeds Play Network (LPN), are helping residents organise ‘street play sessions’ for children by implementing traffic diversions.
And Street Play, a scheme that is being introduced across the country by Play England, is working with LPN to provide parents with support and advice on how to encourage their children to take part in resident led playing in the street.
Project manager at LPN, Yvonne Craig, 50, from Ilkley, said: “All children have a right to play, because of political and social issues and parental fears; children are not encouraged to go outside their front door step and play.
“As a generation, we’ve made children more accustom to staying in. As a society we’ve driven our children indoors, so we try to provide the opportunity so that children can play outside again.”
Currently, residents have contacted the charity for help, including resident Helen Forman, from Roundhay Road, who successfully applied to Leeds city council to have her road closed for two hours, last Thursday.
LPN Community play manager, Cheryl Woods, 43, from Minston, who helped Mrs Forman organise the session, said: “We’ve helped several people within the community. The beauty of it is that the sessions are community led and allows for neighbours to chat with each other, which I think leads to community cohesion meaning It’s a great way of feeling part of the street.”
“I also believe it gives children and parents the confidence to not be afraid of adult strangers who live next door to them.”
The charity is working closely with Leeds City council in order to prepare a policy in the coming months so that the application of a street – led play session will be simple to organise and residents can apply online to have their road closed off and traffic diverted.
Mrs Woods said: “I have very fond memories of playing in the street and I wanted children who hadn’t experienced that to get a taste of it because, it really does have huge benefits to everyone.”
“A feature of it is that neighbourhoods have reported an increase in community cohesion as people gather to organise and deliver the sessions.
We can offer support and practical help to residents and community organisations interested in reactivating street play in their communities.”
To register your interest in running a street play session or find out more about the Leeds project please get in touch with Cheryl Woods – Play Projects Co-ordinator: Telephone: 0113 201679