Twitter +44 28 9032 8811

Belfast Healthy Cities

Our vision is to be a leader in creating
a healthy, equitable and sustainable city

Healthy Cities 21st Century

Child-Friendly Places

We are pioneering child friendly places in Belfast. Child friendly places is a key concept that both aims to give children a stronger voice in decision making and contributes to healthy places. We have engaged over 5,000 children and families in shaping a vision for a child friendly Belfast.  The intersectoral action plan Taking Action on Child Friendly Places: First Steps aims to begin addressing the priorities identified by children in Belfast, and put child friendly places higher on the agenda of the city.

Initiatives

Shaping Healthier Neighbourhoods for Children

Shaping Healthier Neighbourhoods for Children aims to give children an opportunity to make their views about their environment heard. These views and recommendations on what would make things better were used to develop Children’s Voices - A Charter for Belfast and a report.

Healthy Places, Healthy Children Key Stage 2 teaching resource

This new teaching resource was designed in response to a need identified through positive feedback from teachers on the Shaping Healthier Neighbourhoods for Children project delivered in 2011 and 2014. Belfast Healthy Cities was the lead partner in the development of this new resource. It was developed in consultation with the Education Authority, Belfast Region, which provided advice on the content and relevant links to the curriculum. Eleven schools in Belfast piloted the resource in 2015-16. In 2016-17, a second pilot was delivered to help develop a regionally relevant resource, which is due to be launched in autumn 2017. In total over 400 children from eleven schools in Belfast, five in Derry City and Strabane District Council and one in Ards and North Down District Council areas took part in this pilot.

The resource focuses on introducing children to the links between the built environment and health and well-being. It aims to provide an opportunity for children to research their local area and develop proposals for how to make their local environment more child friendly. Both pilots have concluded with events where children present their proposals to local decision makers, to give children an opportunity to share their ideas with decision makers and encourage decision makers to engage children in decision making processes. Work is underway to explore how proposals can be developed further as a partnership between schools and local agencies.

KidsSpace

KidsSpace is a large scale public event which explores the creation of child friendly space in the city centre. Since 2011, KidsSpace events have transformed St Anne’s Square, Buoys Park, Writers Square, Belfast City Hall, Urban Soul and an unused unit in CastleCourt Shopping Centre into welcoming spaces for families and children. Each event has been extremely successful with over 1000 children and parents, highlighting the increasing demand for family activity in Belfast City Centre. A report on exploring child friendly space in the city is available.

Planning My City 

In 2014, in partnership with the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as part of their centenary celebrations, the 'Planning My City' event encouraged young participants to explore how a city is designed, what the uses of buildings could be, where they should be located and how they would contribute to the life of the city.

Evidence

Place matters for children’s health and well-being, because successful places give children a sense of belonging, a sense of identity and a sense of community.

Positive places can be the critical factor in determining whether children’s lifestyles are active and healthy. Supportive places enable children to walk or cycle to school, play outdoors, mix with people of different ages and incomes, and observe nature.

Young children spend most of their time in their local surroundings and their development is more affected by the environment in which they live compared to older children.

Not everyone enjoys equal access to a good quality environment. There is a clear link between place, health inequalities and health outcomes.

Poor quality surroundings can have a negative impact on children’s health. Place, if properly designed and managed, is an asset which can create the conditions for children’s health to flourish.

The local neighbourhood is particularly important for young children’s health and well-being, as they spend  most of their time in their local neighbourhood. The environment children grown up in also shapes their habits and behaviours, and has an impact on their choices throughout their life.