Transforming city sidewalks to get kids moving

I was in London a couple of months ago. I arrived on a Sunday morning. To combat the jet lag that afternoon I went wandering the city and found myself on the South Bank, an area of the city along the Thames that is notable for being home to a number of cultural touchpoints.

It was a lovely day, and the walkway along the embankment, part of the Queen’s Walk, was overflowing with families enjoying the afternoon.

In front of Royal Festival Hall, I came across an area of the promenade that had been marked up with what looked like sidewalk chalk. There were stars and dots and lines and arrows and instructions like “Jump”, “Dance”, “Go slow”, and “Go fast”.

And the kids were loving it. Even if they couldn’t read the words, they knew what to do when confronted with squiggly lines, or a series of dots. They were jumping and skipping and running and dodging and it was such a delight to see them having such fun.

The interactive experience was designed by artist Anna Bruder as part of the Imagine Children’s Festival that happens annually at the Southbank Centre.

It perfectly demonstrated that if you put opportunities for kids to move in front of them, they will move. Especially if it’s fun.

Recreation staff at Lacombe, Alberta know this, which is why they’ve painted similar activities on playground trails around their community.

Sonya Beauclair, who works with the city, told the Lacombe Express, “We thought that painting some games on the walks would encourage kids who may already be active to stay just a bit longer.”

“It’s really great for kids to make up their own games, too, and it helps them develop some other skills,” she added.

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