Opening Neighbourhood Streets for Children’s Play: Results from the StreetPLAY Pilot Program in Toronto

Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) in School Communities: Results from the Pilot Programming in Toronto
May 25, 2018
by
Zainab ABBASI and Raktim MITRA

The StreetPLAY Pilot Project was implemented by EarthDay Canada, a non-profit organization based in Toronto to introduce street play programming onto residential streets in the city. Through collaborative efforts with the City of Toronto, Earth Day Canada temporarily closed seven street sections in one of the inner-urban neighbourhoods, namely the Seaton Village, to allow children’s outdoor play on these streets. The street closures took place on different street sections each weekday from June to October 2017 and was supervised by Earth Day Canada’s street team and local volunteers (parents and high school students). Researchers from Ryerson University conducted an evaluation of the StreetPLAY pilot project to assess the impact of this programming in enabling outdoor play, and the feasibility of replicating similar programming to bring play back to neighbourhood streets. The research also aimed to understand the challenges in implementing a street play intervention in Toronto. We conducted field surveys with parents and caregivers and also surveyed community members. In addition, we interviewed 6 key informants involved in the planning and implementation of StreetPLAY.

The results indicate the positive response from parents and non-parent community members towards re-introducing neighbourhood streets for children’s outdoor play. It demonstrates the potential for success in implementing the StreetPLAY intervention on Toronto’s neighbourhood streets.