Reuniting Planning and Health

Healthy Cities 21st Century

KidsSpace - Belfast Healthy Cities

KidsSpace - Belfast Healthy CitiesChildren are a significant group in society. Child friendly environments are an important signal that children are valued members of society. In addition, child friendly environments in town and cities can help support economic development and regeneration by supporting and attracting families. ‘Child Friendly Cities’ has been a core aspect of Belfast Healthy Cities programme of work since 2011.

In Belfast, the city centre could significantly benefit from more child friendly space, where children are welcome and free to use a space in their own ways. KidsSpace was developed as a model aimed at testing what such space could look like. In addition, it was an opportunity to gather views and information from participants through consultation. KidsSpace was originally initiated in 2011 as a one off event, 6 of the large scale events have now been hosted.

The events have been held in various large outdoor inner city spaces and also in indoor spaces such as an unused unit in a shopping centre. A number of activities were created to help the children utilise the space. Creative Space included community artists who facilitated small arts and crafts; Active Space feature physical activities including Smooth Bikes, spinning bikes, obstacle courses and games facilitated by sports coaches; Free Space encourage free play and included giant games such as Connect 4, Jenga, building blocks and large portable playground equipment.

The KidsSpace events have been extremely popular in the city with a number of the events being attended by 1000 children and adults. Feedback from the parents, grandparents and children has been very positive and reinforced the importance of child friendly aspects in a city centre and that child friendly aspect benefit all ages for example to give children a safe space to play and share and also to potentially support local businesses by increasing footfall throughout the city.

Feedback gathered at the events is that KidsSpace provided a useful model for child friendly space. Families also felt that much can be done to existing under used space. Belfast Healthy Cities are aware that the concept has influenced other projects in the city and indeed the incorporation of child friendly regeneration initiative throughout Belfast. Belfast Healthy Cities have begun to use the feedback gathered at the KidsSpace events to help inform a more strategic child friendly approach across Belfast.

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Belfast Healthy Cities