How children’s global city living experiences can help other parents

Playing in the City event, in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv. Photo: By Shani Halevy, via

A new report highlighting global examples of how city living affects children has been designed to help parents in the Israeli city region of Tel Aviv-Yafo. 

The International Step by Step Association (ISSA), which promotes child development, has used a host of examples to produce a study asking questions about how children and families can get the best out of urban lifestyles.

It aims to address gaps in knowledge about how city environments influence children and, crucially, what is required to make the necessary improvements. It is focusing on an existing project in Tel Aviv-Yafo which aims to provide a child’s perspective on city infrastructures. ISSA’s report was commissioned and funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) – both organisations are based in The Netherlands – which works to improve the lives of children growing up in disadvantaged areas.

Municipal infrastructure

How can designated spaces for parents and children be established within existing municipal infrastructure such as community centres? What needs should these spaces focus on meeting? What services and programmes should they provide?

These are some of the questions posed in the study, Comparative Global Study of Urban Spaces to Support Parents, which looks at the experiences of projects in London, Washington, Ljubljana (Slovenia), Ghent and Queensland, mapping social facilities that have the potential to improve quality of life for children from birth up to four years. It is intended to support ISSA’s Urban95 strategy in Tel Aviv-Yafo, which is the subject of research into priority issues for children and families, including playgrounds and parks, biking and walking solutions for families and family-friendly apps.

Social cohesion

The study demonstrates how these services are important mechanisms for social cohesion, and how, by expanding services and ‘cross-pollinating’ with other organisations and their areas of expertise, cities can offer meaningful support to children and families.

Child in the City World Conference

It also dovetails with many of the key themes being presented at next month’s Child in the City World Conference 2018. Three in particular – children’s rights in urban development and regeneration; equality and diversity in the child-friendly city; and mobility and access to the child-friendly city, will feature presentations touching on all aspects of cities working towards providing child and family-friendly environments.

Child in the City World Conference takes place in Vienna from September 24-26, and is being attended by hundreds of child professionals, ranging from children’s rights advocates to urban planners, youth workers to traffic managers, and academics to policymakers. Visit the website for the full programme and registration details.

Author: Simon Weedy

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