By Ranui Maxwell
Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia ō tātou mahi
Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work
Elevating lived experience and the community voice is one of the building blocks for impactful change, and in this case the tamariki of Cobham Primary School, Gisborne.
The tamariki, guided by Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti and Healthy Families East Cape’s Regional Play Systems Lead, Anna Tolich, are re-imagining how their school and surrounding community of Elgin could be a safer place to play, enabling them to move freely around their community.
Anna has been leading the Neighbourhood Play System (NPS) prototype here in Gisborne, one of four locations around Aotearoa to test and apply this locally. The Neighbourhood Play System is an approach to urban design which places the tamariki at the center of the process as urban designers of their neighborhood.
Cobham School and the community of Elgin have a number of challenges. The NPS prototype empowers community leaders, champions, and members to think differently about the causes of poor health and to make changes to the neighbourhood system of Cobham School and the wider Elgin community which influence the health and wellbeing of whānau.
Through a relationship with Gisborne District Council and access to their GIS mapping, Anna mapped the existing challenges and opportunities to help better understand the area.
The tamariki led a walk around their community and were challenged with solving problems they identified along the way. This sparked their imagination leading them to identify all the opportunities for a more playful community.
“ The NPS is such a radical approach to urban design in that it places the key stakeholder, our tamariki, at the center of the process”.
“The penny drop moment for us was when the tamariki took us on a walk around their neighborhood and they urban designed creative fixes on the spot.”
The area surrounding Cobham School does not have any playgrounds or any playful spaces. However, the tamariki have identified five key areas they can activate for play: school ground play, play on the way, nature play, village play, and play corridors. These five key areas are being presented back to Gisborne District Council in the coming weeks.
The insights and ideas from engagement with tamariki informed a presentation for the 2022 Green Pavlova, the premier conference hosted by Recreation Aotearoa held in Ōtepōti. Green Pavlova is a premier conference that brings together the parks and open spaces industry to learn new things, discuss best practice, and network with colleagues.
“I am really excited to see their opportunities begin to be activated and the tamariki seeing that they can make a change in their own neighborhoods,” says Anna.
“As a tamariki led model, the NPS recognises and elevates our young people as valued contributors to society, giving them the time, space, and permission to have creative ownership over the play layer of their own neighborhoods.”
Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti, Healthy Families East Cape and other stakeholders involved in the Neighbourhood Play System will continue to collaborate for collective impact, and share Cobham School’s journey towards shifting conditions for more playful environments in and around Elgin.
Click here to read the Neighbourhood Play System Report.
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