Children in public spaces activate communities

As a child, Tim Gill’s daughter – one of the UK’s biggest voices when it comes to childhood – enjoyed spending some time at the nursery backyard where a few trees quickly became a “forest” in that little girl’s eyes.

The example serves to illustrate an idea that Gill strongly advocates: bringing children closer to nature benefits both child development and environmental protection. “One of the things that make a good childhood is that children can gradually get to know the world beyond their homes and schools. Because otherwise, they do not grow properly, they can not get the confidence to follow their own path,” he says.

The author of No fear: Growing up in a risk averse society, Gill believes in a learning process where “testing borders” is a central axis. “We call it risk when we do not know what’s going to happen. It may seem like a loaded word, something bad, but it can also be what makes things good, be exciting,” he argues.

Gill is also one of the creators of the International Campaign called Outdoor Classroom Day. He proposes that, unlike the philosophy of protection, adults should deal with children from a philosophy of resilience, “help them to understand how to cope with uncertainty.”

“If we want children to feel that they are part of a community, belonging to the city,” Gill continues, “who have the right to the city, responsibility, and connections with other people, if we want to feel like engaged citizens, we have to give them the opportunity to feel those connections. “

This text was adapted from the article published in Portuguese at Educating cities by Danilo Mekari and Pedro Ribeiro Nogueira.


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