Roath Court Road Play Street project: Giving children public space
On Sunday 16th of December, the fourth Roath Play street took place between the junctions with Arran Place and Roath Court Place with children, parents and volunteers enjoying the Christmas atmosphere while playing altogether.
Roath Court Road Play Street is a new 5-month pilot project across 5 neighbourhoods in Cardiff, supported by Cardiff Council and Play Wales, as an initiative to support children’s free time to socialise and enjoy playing in the streets in an urban environment.
The project started in August and the fourth monthly meeting was held on the rainy afternoon on Sunday 16 December, in a Christmas atmosphere full of songs, games, food and drinks for both adults and kids.
‘’I thought it would be a brilliant idea to get together all the children, as lots of the kids who live so close to each other go to six different primary schools, so there is a chance that they don’t even know each other and certainly kids from the one end of the street don’t know the kids living on the other end of the street, ‘’ said John Roberts, a resident in Roath for about 12 years and one of the co-organisers of the Play street, inspired by Bristol where the project has been running for many years in many areas of the city.
Play Wales has the instrumental role in getting the scheme off the ground by doing lots of the liaisons with the council, knowing all the advantages of such a scheme and it is also one of the main founders in terms of the street signs and play equipment to get Roath Play Street start with.
”Kids look forward to that Sunday and the reactions have been very positive, parents were more than interested in the project at the first place and we only had one objection of a resident in the street, who found the scheme unnecessary”, said Mr Roberts.
The key aim of the Play Street scheme is to boost children’s socialization and at the same time by playing out in a street with cars parked aside, it helps them understand the boundaries of playing and they get to know that they have to be careful, responsible and careful concerning other people’s properties.
As Mr Roberts said, ”kids are welcome to bring their own games like scooters and footballs and when the weather is nice we use chalks to draw games on the street or we bring ropes that young kids really enjoy playing with.”
One of the most important things that the project had to consider about was kid’s safety in the streets of a city where the traffic is bad and parents ar always worried about their kid’s.
Even if the street where the activities take place is not a main city road, with heavy traffic and bus stops, parents are always there to have an eye on them and at the same time, the volunteers who work in shifts in different sections, after having placed signs at the end and the beginning of the street, they always stand in front of them in case there is a car that wants to come in the street. When that happens, one of the organizers walks in front of the car, making sure any children are clear, and the car comes down at walking pace.
The number of current volunteers who participate in Roath Play Street project is 25 and it is continuously growing, with some of them not being parents or not having children of playing age and they are all a part of a volunteer community in the area, participating in other activities throughout the year and Roath Play Street is just an extension of that.
Even if the project is not officially supported by schools, local politicians and teachers have visited the scheme in Roath Court, taking photos and talking to the organisers as a kind of public support and the organisers and volunteers express their hopes that the program is going to be extended after winter, with warmer weather and more fun for the kids.