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Understanding and Supporting the Play Experience in Cities

This project looks at the access to appropriate play spaces for children in urban communities and assesses the factors hindering or enabling outdoor play in urban contexts using an ‘urban play assessment framework’ to compare the state of urban play across global cities. The decrease in the quantity and quality of independent play in children has been linked to increased inequality and a looming skill crisis. The report assesses the contribution of environmental urban factors to this issue building an urban community play profile in order to identify play interventions and close the ‘play gap’.

The decrease in the quantity and quality of independent play in children has been linked to increased inequality and a looming skill crisis. Urban environments in the current scenario of global rapid urbanisation pose specific challenges to the independent play of children and their healthy mental and physical development.

Of the 4 billion people living in urban areas today, nearly a third of them are children and 300 million of these live in urban slums. The latest UNICEF Urban Population Report estimates that by 2050 almost 70 per cent of the world’s children will live in urban areas.

Unplanned and poorly planned urbanisation in both the developed and developing world is placing a premium on accessible green space. Children-friendly community spaces, parks and play areas are often the first casualties as cities adopt unsustainable forms of development.

This project looks at the access to appropriate play spaces for children in urban communities and assesses the factors hindering or enabling outdoor play in urban contexts using a common ‘urban play assessment framework’ to compare the state of urban play across global cities.

The report assesses the contribution of environmental urban factors to this issue building urban community play profiles in order to identify play interventions able to close the ‘urban play gap’.

The project builds upon ARUP's child-centred urban resilience framework to explore the impact of urban factors on the state of play – an issue of increasing importance on the agenda of international organisations such as UNICEF.

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