The Child in the City world conferences take place every two years and, for this 2020 edition, we have chosen the overarching theme of Making Connections. With this Dublin conference we aim to make connections between not only children and cities, but also different disciplines and professionals, including the connection between the physical and the social domain. Through this approach we hope to bridge divides and open up new promising perspectives on interdisciplinary approaches to make cities better places for children from all backgrounds. This conference offers a key opportunity for children’s professionals, city planners, social workers, academics, designers and policy makers to share knowledge about how to build child friendly urban futures.
Within this broad perspective, the Child in the City conference in Dublin focuses specifically on the following six themes:
1.Connecting green and play
Efforts to make cities greener places to live are visible globally. This overall positive development of bringing nature to cities can be used to create not only greener environments but also playful cities. To reach this goal, it is critical that professionals from the social and the physical disciplines work together.. How can we profit from the ‘greening’ of cities in ways that (re)connect children, particularly children from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, to urban green and nature?
2. Connecting generations
The lack of social cohesion is a problem many cities struggle with. One way to overcome social divides is re-establishing of relationships between younger and older citizens. Traditionally, cities focus primarily on age-specific policies and spaces, but today there is a social and spatial need for change. Socially, it is increasingly important to connect different age groups from children to teenagers and older people (0-80), not to mention grandparents! Spatially, we see the urge to create inter-generational spaces in an ever-growing city. How can social and spatial interventions facilitate intergenerational contact and social cohesion? And what can be young people’s agency in decision making around future cohesive cities?
3. Connecting health and play
Children’s health is a big issue nowadays and health problems are very much class related. In this conference we want to make a connection between children’s health, the urban environment and children’s play, with a specific focus on the unequal class of position of children and young people. We aim to focus not only on physical health problems like obesity, but also on mental health problems, as we see an increase of particularly teenagers and youth with mental health problems. What is the influence of the residential environment on young people’s health and what are the possible benefits of (outdoor) play to grow up in more healthy ways?
4. Connecting children’s mobility and sustainable futures
Many cities all over the world are developing policies to ensure sustainable futures. Part of these policies are directed at creating better possibilities for slow mobilities. Here is an important connection to make with children’s everyday lives. How can we create future sustainable cities that include children? And how do we support them (and their parents) to move around walking and cycling on their own?
5. Connecting urban parenting to urban planning
Large western cities have a long history of suburbanizing families that has only recently started to change. Today, many families with various backgrounds live in an urban setting. However, within the urban discourse, families, children and their everyday lives are often neglected. Urban planning and spatial design only rarely address families as urban citizens with specific needs, nor the very notion of parenting work. What challenges do parents meet in their everyday lives to combine working and caring? What social and spatial arrangements would help to better support raising children in urban contexts?
6. Connecting immigrant families to social communities
Migration creates a huge flow of families and children across the globe. It is a big challenge to welcome all the newly-arrived citizens in cities. What does research tell us about the difficulties migrant and refugee families face in settling down in their new neighbourhoods? What policies help free them from isolation and stimulate them to use their skills and creativity to transform and enrich urban communities? How can all urban families together build the village that is considered to be necessary to raise children?