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Friday, October 21, 2016

'Before Then, Children Played in the Streets'! Could it happen again in Nashville?

Thought the passage below was a fitting adjunct argument for Nashville to consider as it works towards implementing Walking Districts in select neighborhoods such as Hillsboro / West End.  

From All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior

'Parents would doubtless feel a lot less pressure to keep their children buy or entertained - and more confident about their kids' ability to make their own fun - if they felt comfortable sending their children outdoors.  But increasingly they don't.  Here, again, is another paradoxical consequence of our sentimentality:  the more economically useless children have become, the more aggressively we've tried to protect them.

One can discern the outlines of this trend by simply studying the history of the modern playground.  In 1905, there were fewer than 100 playgrounds nationwide.  By 1917, there were nearly 4000 because reformers had agitated tightly for them.  Before then, children played in the streets.  But suddenly they needed protection from a brand-new and lethal invention:  the automobile.  And so, in 1906, reformers established the Playground Association of America.  

Today, children lead even more cloistered lives.  They grow up in homes with padded coffee tables, plugged-up electrical sockets, and gated stairways.  They go to playgrounds that offer protection not only from the streets but from their own equipment, with swings as snug as diapers and spongy surfaces to break falls from the jungle equipment.  

So perhaps it's no surprise that by the time children get big enough to venture out on their own - to the grocery store, to a friend's house down the street - their parents feel strange about letting them go, believing the world is a dangerous place.  The number of children who walk or bike to school dropped from 42 percent in 1969 to 16 percent in 2001, according to a survey by the Department of Transportation, even though crimes against children have been steadily dealing for the last couple of decades, making this moment in time perhaps as safe for children as it's ever been.' --- to vote for where you want a sidewalk --- to read more about Walking Districts

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