Thursday, September 9, 2010

The street is their playground

The street is their playground

I'm struck by how there are so few public parks and playgrounds in urban Manila that are accessible to children, especially those who are poor. Even for children with middle-class or working-class parents, the indoor playgrounds at fast-food restaurants or malls are more than likely the ones they enjoy during childhood. For too many kids, however, the dangerous and often dirty streets are their playgrounds.

To me, the reason there are so few parks is not the hot, humid weather, as the shade of trees and cooling winds do much to relieve the heat. The real reason, I suspect, is terrible urban planning and the failure of the State -- through the decades -- to prioritize the need for families to have a safe environment for recreation.

Left with few options when playing outdoors, urban poor children like the ones in this photo find creative ways to play in the street. Here, they use a pedestrian overpass along Commonwealth Ave. as a long slide. They have taken this ugly (and probably overpriced, poorly-designed) structure and made good use of it -- indeed, putting many adult decision-makers and so-called leaders to shame.



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