Monday, February 7, 2011

Seen and Heard: Kids in the City

A scene from Seen and Heard

Last spring I mentioned the film Radiant City, a documentary about the plight of kids in the suburbs.

I just watched another about kids in other parts of the city. The film is by Demos a UK-based think tank on social and political affairs. Their YouTube Seen and Heard says it all. Click HERE to view it.

I rarely see young people at conferences, public meetings, or workshops that I attend. When I ask why I'm met with silence. When I ask for their inclusion in a fun and engaging way, I'm usually met by the question: But this isn't for kids!

Really? Then why does so much of our planning, policing, and crime prevention work circle around them?

Demos claims over 70% of today’s adults played outside on the streets as kids. Only 21% of today’s kids do. True, they may be too obsessed with texting, cells, and other virtual places. Then again, a galaxy of creative talent builds interesting and fun adventures in that virtual space. By contrast, only a microscopic dot of creative talent goes into building equally interesting and fun places for kids in our public realm.

Young people in the public realm? Bleak stats

Says Demos: Public space is failing our younger generation. "Those responsible for making playful places find it difficult to work together and struggle to engage with children properly"

A month or so ago myself and a half dozen local residents watched a TED.com show at a nearby community high school with 20 teens and their teachers. We listened to experts talk on the environment, education, and other topics after which we took turns sharing thoughts and ideas. They had great ideas, great frustrations, and great energy.

In short, there was no lack of creative talent. All that makes me ask this: If our public space is failing our young people, shouldn't we be asking them how to fix it?

2 comments:

  1. Good post I agree with everything you said! Kid's definitely aren't outside like past generations used to be, and technology definitely plays a part in that. I also think,especially in my area, there is not a lot of Fun Places for Kids to go around and just be kids.

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  2. I agree Mike. Whenever we start a new SafeGrowth in a troubled neighborhood the first thing I ask participants to do is to ask local kids what's what. Kids know what's gong on. They are the barometer of neighborhood vitality. Thanks for the comment.

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