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Urban Playground: Child-Friendly Planning and Design

What kind of cities do we desire for future generations? Those ruled by vehicles, filled with noise pollution, and lacking green spaces? Or those that are pedestrian-friendly, inviting, and full of greenery? As the climate crisis and urbanization intensify, it’s crucial for cities to strive towards sustainability. This seminar, led by Tim Gill, uncovers how adopting a child’s perspective when viewing cities can help advocate for effective policies that are beneficial to all.

Gill will demonstrate how child-friendly insights and concepts can be incorporated by urban planners into their master plans, public spaces, and streetscapes. After all, healthier children lead to happier families, eco-friendly communities, and long-term economies. Let’s work together to make our cities better for everyone!

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to:

Understand the significance of child-oriented urban planning.
Identify the components of child-friendly urban planning.
Examine the characteristics that make a public space engaging for children.
Recap a successful case study.

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About this course

What will I learn?

With the increase of urban development, children aren’t as free to roam around as they once were. Now, more than ever, children are exposed to more and more dangers when they leave the house. For this reason, it’s important to design outdoor spaces that prioritize safety. By doing so, children will be able to express themselves in a safe and controlled environment.

In this course, Tim Gill of the UK Play Safety Forum outlines what child-friendly planning is and how to incorporate it in urban planning. In addition, he describes how communities can benefit from implementing child-friendly planning.

  • Economic: Child-friendly planning attracts more families to live in your neighborhood. In turn, this has a positive impact on the surrounding community, businesses, and property owners.
  • Demographic: Child-friendly planning promotes social interaction among children of all incomes and backgrounds. It also offers a safe and inviting space that’s accessible to all abilities.
  • Sustainability: Child-friendly planning prioritizes green spaces with lots of open room for activities. There should be enough space for children to run around, play sports, or bicycle.
  • Community: Child-friendly planning builds neighborhood pride through the ongoing creation and oversight of outdoor spaces. Residents feel like they have a say in community issues.
  • Health and Well-being: Child-friendly planning sparks meaningful experiences that support child-caregiver interactions. This helps promote cognitive, social, and emotional learning.

Who is my instructor?

Tim Gill is an independent scholar, consultant on childhood, and longstanding advocate for child-friendly urban planning and design. From 1997 to 2004, he was the Director of the Children’s Play Council (now Play England). Presently, he is an Ambassador for the UK’s Design Council and Chair of the UK Play Safety Forum.

Tim’s advocacy work engages a wide range of groups, including academics, practitioners, policy makers, the media, and the broader public. His work cuts across multiple facets of child care, such as public policy, education, and urban planning. His 2021 book “Urban Playground: How child-friendly planning and design can save cities” was the Royal Institute of British Architects best-selling publication that year.

Tim’s clients include national and local governments, household name charities and NGOs, education providers, and community groups. He has also advised political parties and thinktanks across the political spectrum. In 2002, he was appointed to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to lead the first ever government-sponsored review on play.

Tim’s works have been widely published in the academic and mainstream media. He has also given talks, seminars, and workshops across the world, and appears regularly on radio and television. One standout moment was when Tim appeared on the BBC show “A Revolution in Childhood”, a debate program chaired by Martha Kearney.

Who is this course for?

The great thing about our courses is that they’re designed for all levels of experience. Whether you’re a parent on a PAC planning your first playground, or a landscape architect with decades of experience, there’s always something new to learn. Plus, our courses offer a quick way to stay up to date with the most recent trends in playground design.

Our courses take into account multiple groups and audiences, all of whom have different needs for their playground. A few groups that will benefit from taking our courses include:

  • Parents: Parent volunteers will learn the most important aspects to consider when planning their playground project.
  • Teachers: Teachers will learn about the educational benefits of play and how to incorporate them on the playground.
  • Landscape Architects: Architects will learn innovative design ideas that they may use in their upcoming projects.
  • Parks & Recreation: Parks professionals will learn about recent advances in safety, inclusion, and sustainability.
  • Property Managers: Property managers will learn how playgrounds can attract families to live in their neighbourhood.
Tim Gill, course instructor for "Urban Playground: Child-Friendly Planning and Design."

Tim Gill

Chair, UK Play Safety Forum

Tim Gill is an independent scholar, global advocate for children's outdoor play, and Chair of the UK Play Safety Forum. His research focuses on creating more child-friendly neighbourhoods through a balanced approach of increased mobility and risk-taking.

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