Brussels creates playgrounds to encourage children to be outdoors this summer

Brussels creates playgrounds to encourage children to be outdoors this summer
Children pictured playing in the city centre on 'Playing Outside Day' in 2019. Credit: Belga/ Ruben Taels

Fewer children are playing on Brussels’ streets, especially in the poorest Brussels neighbourhoods where there are fewer open spaces. To encourage young people to spend more time outside this summer, the region is organising a range of activities.

“Playcation” is Brussels’ play and sports experiment organised by the Flemish Community Commission (VGC) for young and not-so-young people that will take place during the summer, and will include initiatives with an “open system of playing” from the pimping of traffic-free play streets to constructing a playpark.

“A different mindset is needed. We are pursuing a Brussels for people, where it is obvious that every child can play carefree all year round,” Pascal Smet, VGC member for Culture, Youth and Sports, said.

Organised fun

Research conducted by Kind & Samenleving based on data gathered in the last 40 years showed that children are playing outside less frequently, partly because there is less space for playing and more traffic, but also because children are increasingly spending their free time in the garden, in an organised context, such as a sports club, or are watching TV.

A girl playing in a playground in Brussels. Credit: Belga / Thierry Roge

The VGC wants to turn this around, as by playing outside, children get to know other local children and their neighbourhood, and as a result, will feel more connected to it.

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“Every Brussels child should eventually be able to play or play sports within its immediate surroundings, preferably every single day of the year,” a statement from the association read.

The Playcation experiment explores how this “free play” can be encouraged in a safe way, and in a way that all children, including those from poor backgrounds, can get the opportunity to play in this way.

Play zones

Ten playgrounds or ‘play zones’ will be created in the Brussels Region where children and young people can have fun and be carefree during the summer.

The former asphalt surfaces in the City of Brussels, Anderlecht and Koekelberg will be revamped for this purpose, while they will be taught to build constructions with natural and soft materials throughout August with Decoratelier in Molenbeek.

In Watermael-Boitsfort in the southeast of the region, a barefoot path will be created for children. Throughout the summer at various locations, they can build bamboo constructions and learn more about games from the past.

All the various projects will be evaluated by a group of children, guided by the Brussels community centres and based on their thoughts, a Playcation project call will be launched next year.


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