Often I am asked what making a child friendly city means, and why it’s important. Children and adults learn in completely different ways, and children often learn best through play. Unfortunately for many years play has been getting pushed further back in City building priorities. We are changing that! Child Friendly Edmonton has a clear vision: to create a vibrant, connected, safe, sustainable and welcoming city. When planning on how to build a vibrant downtown, city, or community, often children are the last individuals who are thought about because they don’t have a voice among City planners, developers and decision makers. A child-friendly city welcomes and involves children and youth and promotes their well-being and safety.
Edmonton Public Libraries are great examples of planners taking a child’s need to play into perspective when designing. A library is a place where families can all spend time in different areas and learn in many different ways. As the new Stanley Milner library is planned and built, Child Friendly principles have been used to help create spaces that ensure that children’s needs and desires are taken into account. The new library will have some exciting play elements for children and great resources for parents.
Last year the City launched a CHILD FRIENDLY BUSINESS RECOGNITION PROGRAM that aims to give parents ideas of restaurants and business’ that they will be able to bring their children to where they will be welcomed and feel comfortable. Each business will have amenities for families, and activities for children. Staff at these recognized business’ should be patient, friendly and understanding taking the time to greet and welcome their younger customers. Visit edmonton.ca/childfriendly to find one of the 144 business’ already recognized or nominate a Child Friendly business today!
We are also hard at work developing a guide to encourage “Play Streets” which has the goal of reactivating streets to be used for all people. Communities are encouraged to host a “play street” where the street is closed for a day allowing children and families to enjoy the space without having to worry about traffic.
As a City we are constantly looking for new ways to hear from Children and create spaces where they can learn, have fun and feel safe. A child friendly City doesn’t just benefit children, it allows families to feel at home no matter where they are in the City. Building strong and healthy children, families and individuals will make our City stronger in every area.