|Wednesday, June 24|
The ability of youth to enjoy public spaces and to develop a sense of belonging and attachment to these environments is critical for their physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development. Young people are a vital citizen group with legitimate rights to occupy and shape their public environments. However, youth are often prevented from using public spaces as a result of geographic isolation, discriminating actions from others in the space, restrictive community policies or ordinances, or negative perceptions of youth. In addition, some youth may be marginalized and prevented from freely using or feeling welcome in public spaces due to their social or cultural identity, or their economic status or resources. Youth can also be deliberately designed out of public environments or thwarted by designs which unintentionally make it difficult for them to use these public spaces. Lastly, young people are also often excluded from genuinely participating in the planning of public, outdoor environments.
* Louise Chawla, University of Colorado, United States
Child-friendly streets: the importance of developmental approaches in urban design and planning
* Juan Torres, Université de Montréal, Canada
The streets, fundamental component of the public space network, accommodate a growing number and diversity of motor vehicles. In the Global North, but also in cities of the Global South, space sharing and the risk of traffic accidents are becoming increasingly pressing issues. In suburban areas and central neighborhoods, traffic and parking occupy the streets, making them harder to use by children on foot or on bicycle, much less for non-transport purposes, such as playing. Yet, experienced by children as part of their daily living environment (during the trips between home and school, or to reach other amenities), streets can also be seen as key resources, bringing opportunities for activities and social interaction. What is the importance of streets through the biographical paths of children? Why are child-friendly streets strategic for the sustainability of cities? How can streets evolve, supporting children’s growing-up process? This presentation draws on a chapter prepared by the author for the handbook “Designing Public Spaces for Young People”, edited by [symposium conveners] (Routledge, forthcoming). It makes a plea for taking children, youth, and their activities – including free play and other unstructured activities – into account in the design and development of streets and street networks. It puts forward the relevance of a developmental approach in urban design and planning, as conceptualized by Bronfenbrenner, enabling reciprocal adaptations between the built environment and children’s activities throughout the growing-up process. This presentation will include concrete examples of innovative public policies from the province of Quebec and abroad that promote the legitimate presence of the children and youth in the streets, and their insightful participation in urban planning and design.
Turning Young People's Ideas into Action: Learning from Long-term Partnerships for Child and Youth Participation
* Louise Chawla, University of Colorado, United States
Mara Mintzer, University of Colorado, United States
This presentation features lessons learned during more than 10 years of work with the Growing Up Boulder program in Boulder, Colorado to engage children and teens in participatory urban planning and design. The program was formed through a Memorandum of Understanding by the City of Boulder, public school district, and a design center at the University of Colorado, now named the Community Engagement, Design and Research Center. The partnership includes changing constellations of other community organizations, depending on each project’s focus. Each year, city agencies identify design and planning initiatives that will be strengthened by young people’s ideas; and young people study local places and issues as a foundation for formulating recommendations. The program is guided by a commitment that at least half of its projects will involve young people from underrepresented groups. The presentation emphasizes lessons learned as demand for the program grows and new ways need to be found to gather ideas from expanding numbers of young people, while giving some children and teens intensive experiences of civic participation. It also summarizes how program staff and partners have developed ways to ensure that local leaders will not just hear young people’s suggestions, but also incorporate feasible ideas into city plans, policies and public spaces. It describes different approaches to communicate to young people how their ideas have been applied, and to advocate for their recommendations during the long period that often intervenes between the original conceptualization of ideas and their embodiment in redeveloped spaces. As cities in the United States and abroad look to Growing Up Boulder as a model, efficient ways to share experience need to be developed, such as the recent book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities, and participation in Child Friendly Cities networks coordinated by UNICEF.
Public space, mobility, and exclusion from the point of view of young women: a participatory action-research in Zapopan, Mexico
* Amélie Boudot, Université de Montréal, Canada
Juan Torres, Université de Montréal, Canada
Alejandra Leal, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico
Public space is a fundamental resource for communities, bringing opportunities for social interaction, personal development, and well-being. However, in many urban environments, adolescent women face systemic exclusion from the public realm. This is particularly true in low-income areas of cities in the Global South, where gender-based violence and social norms become heavy limitations to their access to public space and mobility. How do adolescent women use and perceive the public spaces during their daily travels in low-income urban areas? This paper reports on a participatory action-research conducted in the peripheral neighborhood of Miramar, Zapopan, a municipality in the metropolitan region of Guadalajara in Jalisco, Mexico. The aim of the process was threefold: a) produce relevant knowledge about young women’s specific experiences in public spaces, during their daily travels; b) foster individual and collective empowerment of adolescents in a context of gender inequality; c) inform local urban policy towards spatial justice. Drawing on a feminist methodology and using popular education tools, we collaborated in 2019 with 10 young women aged between 15 and 19 years old. We conducted a review of official documents (local plans, programs, policies, etc.) and semi-structured interviews with 12 key stakeholders (municipal employees, community groups, etc.). We found that adolescents experience a twofold exclusion from public space: on the one hand, the exclusion is related to gender inequality and the violence they experience as young women; on the other hand, the exclusion comes from an adult-centered paradigm and the social representation of young women as vulnerable. Finally, this paper shows that participatory processes in urban planning are useful not only in producing knowledge from the daily experience of exclusion but also in enabling the excluded to acknowledge their condition and to engage in positive action to transform their living environment.
The Mission: Engaging Aboriginal Australian Children in the Redesign of Community Public Spaces
* Angela Kreutz, Deakin University, Australia
‘The Mission’ is how children refer to their home in an Aboriginal community in south-eastern Queensland, Australia. And during an intensive one-day co-design workshop, it was their mission to redesign their community which remains burdened by post-colonial and institutional structures after decades of government control. Meaningful participatory design research is evidenced worldwide, but this is far less common with Indigenous people. This chapter presents a case study that engaged Aboriginal Australian children in the redesign of public and shared spaces. This involved an assessment and rethinking of shared spaces using a mixed method approach including Photovoice, focus group discussions, interviews and a co-design workshop. The methods used to engage children in design activities are detailed, along with their planning and design recommendations, and personal reflections on the participatory process itself. Furthermore, a number of guiding principles are presented that can assist individuals and organizations wanting to engage Indigenous children in co-design projects. These are relevant to Australia and other Indigenous communities in the world, where the trauma of colonial events continue to impact their everyday lived spaces.
Listening to Children: Transforming the Approach to Play Area Design
* Hisham Gabr, The American University in Cairo, Egypt
Aliaa Maged Kamal, The German University in Cairo, Egypt
Type of Proposal: Research Presentation Title: Listening to Children: Transforming the Approach to Play Area Design Summary Spending quality time outdoors has regularly been associated with proper development of child cognitive, psychological, emotional, social and motor skills. Design of outdoor child play spaces by adults have often led to children not playing outside as much as expected. This paper argues that involving the generation of children in the planning and design process helps transform the play environment into a more successful place that fulfils their expectations, and helps in their physical, social and cognitive development over time. Investigating children’s priorities, needs, and problems on their play areas is believed to have many benefits such as generating innovative ideas and building a sense of ownership and belonging to the place. The concept of child participation in the design process was amplified after the 1989 United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that children have the right to be consulted with matters related to areas that affect them, and have their opinions considered. The study focuses on early school-aged children 6-8 years, studying play areas of social clubs and public parks in Cairo, Egypt. A multi-tasked qualitative methodology has been used to collect information about the current design situation, children's preferences and comparisons with adult views. Results of the study show that considering children's perspective and integrating children in the design process positively transforms the design outcome such as advocating more use of natural features. The conclusions of the study suggest that play areas be “richer” by providing more opportunities for children to use multitude of skills and senses to have interesting and developmentally appropriate play experiences. Keywords: Play areas, child participation, designing environments, outdoor play, child development.
* Louise Chawla, University of Colorado Boulder, United States