Child Friendly Cities in Sweden
A project entitled “City of Children” was operated between 1997-1999 by the Swedish section of the International Association for the Child’s Right to Play (IPA Sweden). The project’s main activities involved seminars and conferences which were, when they were evaluated, thought to be overly dogmatic, academic and technical. At around the same time, IPA Sweden became aware of the “Child Friendly Cities” (CFC) programmes that operated in many cities, and with the approval of their World President, Jan van Gils, they began to design their own Swedish CFC project. As a non-governmental organisation (NGO) IPA Sweden was powerless to influence the politicians of municipalities. The group proposed an informal network of support, membership of which was open to municipalities and cities. Research through the Internet showed that many cities tried to be child friendly in diverse ways, however IPA’s objectives would naturally be focused on the child’s right to play. They asked themselves what a city must do to improve its playing facilities. Many Swedish cities had invested heavily in traditional playgrounds with suitable equipment but surveys showed that children played there for only 10-20 percent of the time spent outdoors. The remaining 80-90 percent was spent in open city areas where children were neither wanted nor expected to be by adults. Statistics relating to playgrounds show that 3,700 children between the ages of 0-12 years have had accidents with play equipments; this naturally gave much cause for concern. However, those facts must be balanced against other evidence which shows that 7,400 children in the same age group were injured playing in parking areas and entrance ways, and that 20,000 children were injured in sports halls and on sports grounds.

The goals of the project were threefold. The first was to have municipalities determine where children spent their outdoor recreational time in the hope of making those areas safer and freer. Naturally the group understood that play is inherent in children’s behaviour and is not dependent on location. A key concept of this goal was that the school way=the play way. Children played going to and from school, in areas where the adults not have been thinking about playing children. The second goal was to determine how to make children’s paths to school safer and more conducive to play. The third goal was to have more “home zones” delineated in residential areas. The final point of concern was to make the following areas more child friendly: housing; traffic areas; school ways; streets; parking areas; squares; parks; sports grounds; leisure centres; cultural institutions and other public places.

Of the 289 Swedish municipalities, nearly 10 percent responded favourably. Three IPA groups work to support the network: the Municipal Group; the Play Environment Group; and the Play Day group. In addition to research that results in publications related to the interests of network members, seminars and Play Days are organised. Governmental funding for the IPA project has been assured for three years, but beyond that time, the future is uncertain.

Nic Nilsson
Project leader
Barns rätt till lek – IPA Sweden
Box 9003

Nature School website in Swedish/English language.
The main objective of Naturskolan (Nature School) – The Outdoor / Environmental Education Unit in Lund – is to act as a source of inspiration and support for schools in the Lund area in their work in the field of environmental studies and natural science. The Nature School encourages study of the natural world in the classroom, in the school grounds, in the local community and on the county and international level. The free-of-charge Outdoor School Day has been designed for preschools, primary, elementary and sixth form schools. This programme can also be tailor-made to meet the needs of each school. In winter 2001/2002 most schools in Lund had a regular Outdoor School Day. More than 100 classes – 2500 to 3000 pupils – went outdoors once a week all the year round. To reach the far-away recreational areas schools can use the Nature bus. The programme also has a bulletin about natural phenomena of each season. Almost every weekend children can join a guided tour on a specific theme, such as geology, flora or traces in nature. In the Green Schooldays project children can participate in designing their own schoolyards together with teachers, educational authorities, technical authorities, the City’s real-estate dept. and gardening companies.

Lund City Council
Utbildningskansliet, Stortorget 1, PO Box 138
22100 LUND