Growing Up in Cities-Lebanon

Growing Up in Cities is a global effort to address issues affecting urban children and youth. It provides models of interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral collaboration that incorporate the views of young people to develop more responsive urban policies and practices. This is a joint initiative from UNESCO’s MOST Programme (Management of Social Transformations Programme) working with interdisciplinary teams of municipal officials, urban professionals, and child advocates around the world.

Growing Up in Cities has core sites in different countries. Among these, the Lebanon Project has developed some issues of the city/municipality from the perspective of safe play. Growing Up in Cities-Lebanon was initiated in 1999 in the ancient city of Saida (historically known as Sidon) in collaboration with the City Council and the Hariri Foundation of Lebanon. During the first phase of participatory research with the children of the old city, the following issues from the perspective of safe play were identified for action:

    • Children identified the lack of play space as a key issue
    • Many parents discourage children from playing in the street and alley areas
    • The one playground in the old city was badly damaged and remains in disrepair
    • These are questions as to whether or not women and girls would feel comfortable using a public, mixed-used play area.

The development of green areas and play areas to be the most fruitful short-term direction for child and youth participation. In North America, Britain and other parts of Europe, play areas are being designed to integrate areas for sports and active play as well as areas for ‘nature play’ or quiet, imaginative and social play in green areas. It is recommended that a participatory process of public space analysis and improvement be undertaken in order to introduce an integrated system of green spaces and play areas into the Old City area. The preliminary research activities and subsequent environmental actions provide a valuable case study to support replication of the project approach in other districts of Saïda as well as other cities in Lebanon and the region.

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