How to promote your own, kid-friendly, walkable community

How to promote your own, kid-friendly, walkable community

Below are some tips on creating your own kid-friendly, walkable community, from Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner and Executive Director for the City of Toronto. (Read our interview with Jennifer.)

Start walking to school

“Create a walking school bus,” says Keesmaat. “Identify other parents in the neighbourhood whose kids go to the same school. Take turns having a parent walk the kids to school.” Maybe it won’t work for your schedule, but maybe another parent won’t mind an extra kid or two along for the walk. “It’s a tremendous way to build community, and a wonderful way to build new friendships in your neighbourhood.”

Send your kids to the park

“Kids need time to get bored and explore and do what they’re going to do. The challenge is when all the children in a neighbourhood are over-programmed. You can’t go to the park and play pickup baseball if there are no other kids in the park to play with.”

Deprogram your kids

Sure, after-school activities are good. But too many activities? Too much, Keesmaat says. “There needs to be a movement around deprogramming children. When my daughter was really little, we had her in everything: ballet, swimming lessons, choir,” she says.

“Then we had this moment as a family where we realized we were just always rushing from one thing to the next. The next year, we let her choose one activity, and our quality of life went up exponentially.”

Let your kids play in nature

“A special place in nature is critical to human health,” she says. “Kids need to find opportunities to climb trees and touch the earth and get dirty. That’s a critical part of being connected to our environment.”

Teach your kids how to take public transit

“It’s about building civic-mindedness at an early age,” she says. “When kids take transit at a very young age, it’s reinforced that transit is safe.”

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