Taking it to the streets
Frisbee, lattes in residents' suburban play
Posted on 24.02.2020
It’s 11am on a sunny Sunday and time seems to have slowed in Meaker Avenue, Brunswick West.
On the bitumen, two girls toss a frisbee, while nearby, a toddler lazes on a picnic rug with two older kids and a dog.
A small boy swings a cricket bat that’s bigger than him. Meanwhile, the adults are actually talking to each other, sipping lattes from a coffee machine and planting herbs on the nature strip.
Meaker Avenue was closed to cars for two hours to hold the inaugural Victorian event for ‘1000 Play Streets’, which encourages people to socialise and play in their suburban streets.
A Planet Ark survey in 2011 found that 73 per cent of respondents said they played on the street when they were young compared to only 24 per cent of their kids .
The Victorian pilot, funded by Sport Australia, the City of Moreland and City of Darebin, will comprise16 play streets events in the next two months in Preston, Reservoir, Brunswick West, Coburg North and Fawkner.
The three other councils in the pilot are interstate: in South Perth and Vincent in WA, and Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
For local woman Maria, 49, the Meaker Avenue event was about connecting with the community. Growing up in Reservoir, she played in the street ‘‘all the time’’ and wants the same for her daughters Mia, 12, and Ruby, 10.
Maria said children today lived ‘‘much more indoors’’ or visit people elsewhere, with less time to play in their own street.
Dan Machado, 37, said it was great to see his son Manuel, 4, having fun playing mini golf and cricket, riding his scooter and swapping toys with other kids.
Mr Machado said children often have tightly scheduled activities so it was nice to have an event where Manuel could play freely.
‘‘Extracurricular activities like sports are great, but then a lot of the time you end up going from one place to another, in a car with maybe less time for kids to play.’’
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