Coming From The Streets

Coming From The Streets  By: Derrick Newton

Few in this generation realize the impact that the streets have on the youth. Growth and development is shaped through the actions young people experience. The assigned readings really spoke to the importance of street planning with impact it has on children, a group that seemingly has been overlooked in many urban street plans in today’s society. Culture has changed across cultures where children are no longer granted the opportunity to explore and venture out on their own. The article “Children and City Design” truly spoke to these changes, noting how sheltered children are today. They are smothered by their parents who watch their every move, consumed by scheduled activities that enforce conformity, and are captivated  by technology, which limits there natural interpersonal experiences. Who is to blame? Have we moved away from the importance of play and interpersonal connections or have we limited our opportunities through street planning to allow our children to live the experiences of the past?

We have limited our children from actively partaking in our communities. We’ve taken them out of the urban spaces by limiting accessibility, not creating enough opportunities for participation and exploration, and imposing the limited ideals of what adults think children want an need in our communities. I wonder why things have changed so much. When I was younger, I remember being told to constantly to go outside and play. I played Tag, Mr. Freeze, Rock Teacher and more with not only my siblings, but also extended family members and other children in my neighborhood of varying ages and identities. We jumped rope in the streets, carefree and full of wonder, only moving as the cars came by. What’s changed? Some would argue safety. Crime in urban city areas has increased since I was a young boy, but is the solution to remove the children, or to remove the crime. I vote for the latter. By sheltering our youth away from the streets that we once were raised in, we limit not only their experience but also their knowledge. As the “Go Play in the Streets” article noted, and that I found to be profound, Jean Piaget wrote “Each time one prematurely teaches a child something he could have discovered himself, that child is kept from inventing it and consequently from understanding it completely.” We must reintegrate the youth into our urban societies in hopes of aiding in not only their development, but also the development of society as a whole.    

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