Child Friendly Neighbourhoods in Frankston

Local families in our community have been meeting up for regular neighborhood play. The parents and children have enjoyed this relaxing social time spent outdoors connecting with each other and taking a break from their busy lives.

We value this restorative time spent in nature and understand that regular physical activity and exposure to fresh air and sunshine is good for the health and well being of our kids.  It creates a healthy appetite and results in a good nights sleep too!

Our aim is to nurture our children’s “Play Culture” with less screen time and more green time each day.  Modern technology, via texting, means that a catch up is easy to organize.  We meet regularly after school and on weekends in our quiet street and our children play supervised on the nature strips and footpaths.
Children can often be seen riding their scooters, bikes or skateboards, climbing trees, playing cricket, rollerskating, hopscotch, elastics, hoola hooping and skipping.  Making daisy chains, drawing with chalk on the pavement, watching a trail of ants, following the flight path of a butterfly, lying on their backs on the grass and watching clouds or listening to the birds are also popular past times.

Children playing on the streetFriendships are formed, memories are made, resulting in enriched community culture.

Our street imitates the ‘play streets’ that were active in many Victorian towns from the 1930s to the 1970s. It is fantastic to see children playing again in what could be an empty street.  The regular presence of people makes our community feel safer and less isolated.

Parents have fond memories of their own childhood play culture. These evocative recollections lead to discussions.  Parents say:

  •  “When we were kids, we mostly played outside.  We had active everyday adventures. Now kids recreation is mostly technological, sedentary and inside.  This notion of outdoor play is helping us have a healthy balance of recreational pursuits.  I want my kids  to have everyday adventures too!”
  •  “When my kids see others playing outdoors, they excitedly ask “Mum, can we go out and play too?” Local neighbourhood play is turning my intention into action.”
  •  “We live in a group of 6 Units, our small backyards mean our footpaths and naturestrips are our kids playspots.  Local signage to slow cars down would be great, our kids need to be safe.”

Promoting more contact with nature could be both prevention and cure for many of the health issues that face our community today.

We, the local families with children, have a few goals we will be working towards as a neighborhood, to make the street where we play safer and more child friendly. 

Tree planting*Our first request to plant  Fruit trees on nature strips is a fantastic initiative, that has been endorsed by our local Frankston Council. Costa Georgiadis, a huge supporter of nature strip gardens, (Planting on the Verge, can be viewed on ABC Gardening Australia) helped us with our plea to council for fruit trees, by writing a very convincing letter of support.  (Can be viewed by clicking here

In July 2012, with council support, we planted advocado, orange, lemon, mandarine, feijoa, apples, pear, nectarines, peaches, Tasmanian Pepper and bay trees, (soon to be under planted with herbs in the tree water wells). 

These fruit trees will help to make our street more child friendly by giving children the opportunity to harvest and graze when  hungry and out playing. Do you, the reader, have memories as a child, of harvesting food in your community or out in ‘The Wild’?

The fruit trees will also help to address our food  security issues, reduce food miles, help provide food for all and make our community a more interesting place to live, play and walk.

Other goals we are currently working towards to make the street where we live safer and more child friendly are:

* Seating installed on some nature strips for families to sit and supervise their young children while they play on the footpaths and nature strips, or for elderly residents to rest while walking around the block.

* Signage, warning the motorists entering our street, that as a community, we value neighborhood play and it is likely that they may encounter children at play, so please enter this shared space with caution!

We would love to hear about how you have managed to make your neighborhood more ‘child friendly’ and the immediate natural space where you live safer and more ‘playable’.

Contact person: Narelle Debenham