Cities for children

Cities for children

*** The Call for Proposals for the World Urban Parks Congress 2023 has been extended until May 19th. Submit your abstract for the World Urban Parks Congress 2023 here.

How would our cities change if we designed them with children in mind? This is the question we seek to answer on this week’s Podparks, with the help of Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director at 8-80 Cities, Leticia Lozano, founder of MACIA Studio, and Jennifer De Melo, Senior Strategist of Organization Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at Kaboom. 

Amanda O’Rourke and Alice begin by discussing the fault in modern city design to favor young, able-bodied men and cars. This has resulted in a lack of considerations for children and other populations, and as a result has excluded other city experiences from the urban space.


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But there is a great significance of designing cities with children in mind. Leticia Lozano emphasizes the role of children as indicators of healthy and thriving cities and the need to prioritize their safety, independence, and overall development.

Design elements that facilitate child-friendly cities are discussed, including spacious sidewalks, safe crossings, rest areas, shade, and accessible transportation systems. Enabling children to navigate their neighborhoods independently fosters socialization, motor skill development, and cognitive growth.

But safety is not the final destination fo child-friendly cities. As Jen De Melo suggests, integrating play into city design is a vital aspect of childhood development, contributing to physical, mental, and social well-being.

The guests discuss the necessity of accessible play spaces and the challenges associated with limited access to parks and play areas, particularly for disadvantaged communities. Embedding play opportunities into everyday spaces and embracing nature as a play element are extremely important to ensure access to the many benefits of play.

The episode also addresses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on play and outdoor spaces. It underscores the importance of play during times of isolation and highlights the creative ways in which communities adapted to provide play opportunities. The pandemic emphasized the value of green spaces and the need for equitable access to them in creating healthier, more inclusive communities. 

By prioritizing the needs of children and caregivers, cities can enhance safety, mobility, and overall well-being for all residents. Amanda, Leticia and Jen all agree on the importance of considering play as an essential element of urban design, with its benefits reaching beyond childhood and extending to people of all ages. The episode concludes by highlighting the role of cities in fostering joy, happiness, and healthier citizens.

This podcast is only one of the many resources available inside the WUP member platform. Discover more resources and connect with park professionals around the world at 

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