If we want to make our cities liveable for everyone, planning from the vantage point of a kid is the best example to start. As a healthy three-year-old sees the city from a 95-cm average height, we need to shape the city that way, from the height of a child to make everything child-friendly.
As part of the capacity building programme for city planners and Government officials on child-friendly interventions, experts from the Bernard van leer Foundation (BvlF) in collaboration with the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) organised a workshop titled ‘Urban-95’ on early childhood development and city planning here on Tuesday and enlightened administrators, town planners, architects, child development and protection officers and city officials from the city.
BvlF Early Childhood Development Specialist Rachel Machefsky said, “Children are fastest learners; so, we must always focus our attentions on their needs so that from their early-childhood days they would grow around child-friendly public spaces and would always have a similar orientation to have the philosophy in mind.”
BvlF India representative Rushda Majeed presented an overview of the foundation and how it is supporting child-friendly initiatives across the world including the Bhubaneswar Smart City project, in which pilot and cost-effective innovations would be included in public space, mobility, data-driven decision making and parent coaching.
Deliberations were also held on public space transformation of existing physical spaces into accessible places for children to play and explore nature, ensuring safe passage for kids to walk or cycle and a safe place to play and get food, etc.
BDA Secretary Sitansu Kumar Rout said, “As our city had topped the India Smart City Challenge and the award winning Bhubaneswar Smart city proposal envisage to make the city child friendly, the Urban-95 concept is being followed to make various aspects of city design and infrastructure child-friendly in real sense.”
The participants made different models with building blocks to depict challenges faced by children in urban space.
They also took part in an exercise to discuss and suggest changes to landscapes and interventions in parks to make them more child-friendly, interactive, participatory and adaptive with concepts like incorporating open library at public spaces, splash pool, natural mounds, tree stumps and clay modelling and how to introduce them to different open spaces and parks.
It may be noted that Bhubaneswar envisions being the first child-friendly city in the country in collaboration with the BvlF and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA).