Hackney children enjoy outdoor fun thanks to road closures

Play Street volunteers wiht Cllrs McShane and Demirci

Play Street volunteers wiht Cllrs McShane and Demirci - Credit: Archant

Children have been able to play in the streets outside their homes for thousands of hours over the past year, thanks to a Hackney project.

A report compiled by children’s play expert Tim Gill said volunteers running the scheme, Play Streets, spoke of a greater sense of community and a feeling of safety.

In the Hackney Play Streets project, which was first launched in 2012, residents can apply to have particular roads temporarily closed weekly or monthly so children can take part in outdoor play events and neighbours can connect with each other.

During the sessions, children are able to ride bikes and scooters, bring out and share their toys and take part in street games like hopscotch and skipping.

The report’s findings were presented at a reception on February 27 and showed that in a 12-month period until September last year, the project had supported 1,600 children enjoy 8,100 hours of physical activity.

The report also showed the scheme had assisted three schools and a children’s centre to run Play Streets at the end of the school day and supported parents in three estates to run similar sessions.

As of last month, there are 32 play streets in Hackney.

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Mr Gill said: “This report shows that play streets are not just a popular, effective way to get many more children playing outdoors and being active.

“They also have the potential to transform the way people feel about their neighbourhoods.

“I suspect that councils across the country will be looking to follow Hackney’s lead.”

Cllr Feryal Demirci, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “Play Streets has been a resounding success, helping to get more children physically active, creating tighter-knit communities and making our neighbourhoods more liveable.”