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Could new community initiative help Suffolk's children play out more?

PUBLISHED: 19:40 22 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:41 23 June 2019

Children playing on mobile phones.

Children playing on mobile phones.

JackF

A new initiative which aims to encourage young people to play outside more by closing residential roads for a few hours a week could be trialled on Suffolk's streets.

The scheme, called 'Playing Out' was created in Bristol after residents of a terraced street got together to try and come up with a way of entertaining their children after becoming frustrated that their road was being dominated by through traffic.

The founders of the initiative realised that they could apply to the council to close their road for a street party, and so decided to use the same procedure to shut it one day after school in 2009.

Parents were amazed when over 30 children of a range of ages played on the street together, while several onlookers checked for cars, creating a space for the youngsters to play safely.

The idea took off and by the end of 2013, over 400 streets were taking part in the scheme, directly benefitting more than 12,000 children.

Now, volunteers representing Community Action Suffolk and Suffolk Rural Coffee Caravan have started to look into the possibility of bringing the initiative to the streets of the county.

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As part of the plans, a Playing Out workshop is taking place from 9.30am on Wednesday June 26 at George Hines Room, Wherstead Park in Ipswich.

The workshop will aim to teach local parents how the scheme works, how to start the discussion in your local community and how to run a Playing Out session.

Attendees will also be treated to a talk from a GP from Tring in Hertforshire who is the initiative's lead for the area.

He said: " I see Playing Out as a key piece of the jigsaw to create liveable towns and cities that are about people, community and the environment.

"It may sound trite but when looking at some of the big issues we face on the planet like climate change, polarised opinions, loneliness, consumerism, often the most meaningful actions are on our front doorstep."

The Playing Out scheme could also help community spirit in Suffolk. All of the streets where the initiative takes place organise it themselves, meaning that neighbours get to know each other and children make friends.

The future aim of the project is for playing out to be a normal everyday activity for all children, rather than an organised, supervised event.

To book a place at Wednesday's event, click here.

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