Street Play projects have become increasingly popular in western contexts where children’s outdoor free play has been in decline. Street Play projects are generally organized by adults: children play on urban streets closed to traffic. This paper reports results from an evaluation focused on the Hantown Street Play Project (pseudonym) that took place in a large English town. Hantown Leisure Trust (pseudonym) set up the project, run by play workers, and commissioned the evaluation ‘…to identify the impact of the Street Play project on participating children’s perceptions of play in their community and residents’ perceptions of community spirit’. Children aged 3-11, parents and local residents participated in questionnaire surveys (n=216) and semi-structured interviews (n=25), eliciting ten themes indicating that participants generally regarded the project positively. However, this paper argues that Street Play is a different proposition from children’s own play on the streets, according to widely recognised definitions of play.
Bibliographical noteJane Murray is Associate Professor and Co-Director at the Centre for Education and Research, University of Northampton, UK. She has published extensively on early childhood education and social inclusion, and is Editor of the International Journal of Early Years Education.
- autonomous play
- children’s play
- outdoor play
- street play