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“Think of what you enjoyed most as a child, and now as an adult, try to create those moments throughout the urban fabric.” – Leticia Lozano

In this special Cities on the Frontline Webinar, R-Cities launched a partnership with the Real Play Coalition, Strengthening Urban Resilience Through Play.

“We must ensure that every child is respected, valued, treated fairly and loved.” Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston and Chair of R-Cities’ Board.

Mayor Turner kicked off the session by launching a survey on how cities are building resilience through play. He continued to outline the City of Houston’s commitment to children in their efforts to build back better.

Jerome Frost, Global Cities Leader at Arup and Co-Chair of the Real Play Coalition, then joined in to provide the perspective of a city practitioner. Arup plays its role in the coalition by being particularly focused on the built environment, in creating a safe, inclusive and playful public realm. With London, Milan and Cape Town, Arup has driven the Reclaiming Play in Cities initiative to form an urban play framework to guide design and placemaking.

“Play is a bio-marker of the health of societies.” – Thiago Hérick de Sá

To underscore the importance of play in the health and wellbeing of people at all ages, the session was joined by Thiago Hérick de Sá, Healthy Urban Environment Technical Officer, WHO. He stressed that children are not only the beneficiaries of this work but must be active participants in the process of planning, implementing and monitoring it. Enhancing the agency of children is a critical in enhancing their health and wellbeing throughout their lives.

Bringing in a design perspective, Leticia Lozano, Co-Founder and Director of MACIA Estudio, provided examples of initiatives and interventions in Mexico. Participatory processes and community engagement is central their process through the design and evaluation process. At MACIA Estudio, they create frameworks and strategies to embed play into urban agendas, design and disseminate tools on the importance of play, guides on how to continue to play during Covid-19, among many other projects. Lozano continues by detailing a participatory planning and play project developed among an informal community by a canyon at the edge of Mexico City. She stresses the importance of involving children, women and the elderly throughout the community engagement process.

“It has been proven once and again when places are designed, developed and transformed from [a community’s] perspective then the places belong to everyone.” –Leticia Lozano, Co-Founder and Director of MACIA Estudio,

Finally, the webinar was joined by two speakers from Belfast City Council - Richard McLernon, Project Coordinator for the Climate Unit, and Callie Persic, Regeneration Project Officer. Together, they outline the many placemaking and community projects the city has undertaken. McLernon provides insight into the challenges youth face, the history of conflict and shocks faced by the city, and the resilience strategy that has come out of this. Persic then continues by describing the interventions conducted to enhance the public realm and bring people back into the city centre. One of these examples was a pop-up park for children which was very well received and resulted in the growth of similar play and placemaking initiatives.

The session then culminates in a discussion on how we can better recognize the many benefits of play, how it can be used to address inequalities and how cities can commit to children while building back better.

Share what YOUR city is doing to make cities more playful here!

#urbanresilience #play #citiesforchildren
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