In Montpellier, the launch of the “Children’s City” lab to restore urban space to the youngest

In Montpellier, the launch of the “Children’s City” lab to restore urban space to the youngest

Le titre du journal Libération “Moi, moche et gênant” projeté, pour signifier l'exclusion des enfants de l'aire urbaine. MIDI LIBRE – VM

By joining the Children's City network in 2023 initiated by Francesco Tonucci, the city is committed to becoming a "laboratory" like the town of Fano in Italy where urban space is given back to children, the fight of the researcher in transalpine psycho-pedagogy. 

"Me, brat and annoying", on February 19, the front page of the newspaper Libération had us still gratified with a brilliant, cruel title… and just to introduce his file on an increasingly assumed exclusion of children from public space , in hotels, restaurants, etc.".

Safer streets when children play there

To support his long-term project of a "child-friendly city", Michaël Delafosse brandishes the front page of the newspaper to the young audience, who came in large numbers to attend this Wednesday, the launch of the "Children's City Laboratory". "I wish for a city designed for and with children: access to culture, sport, games in public spaces. Work well, invent well!", he encourages them.

And we know that the campaign promise has been taken seriously by the municipality since its inauguration. Free public transport since 2022, the "streets for schoolchildren"prohibited to traffic during entry and exit times, therefore more breathable, safe and friendly, demonstrate a desire to rebalance public space in favor of citizens most exposed to & quot;dangers" from the street, people with disabilities, people in precarious situations, the elderly, children. So we might as well involve the most vulnerable among them, and therefore the youngest, by making them participate in decisions that concern them, by listening to their ideas…

A network made up of 200 cities around the world

This is Francesco Tonucci's fight. The Italian researcher in educational psychology, author of the book "The city of children" recommends thinking of the city differently, which had not fallen on the ears of a deaf mayor. 

It was in the presence of around a hundred schoolchildren and Francesco Tonucci via video that the ' ;Children's City Laboratory" comprising within it a children's council in conjunction with the municipal children's council (CME), representatives of the community and external partners.

This "lab" joins the 200 other cities in the "Children's City" internationally, which Montpellier integrated in February 2023, and the first to do so in France. For these young, well-shaped heads and these desperately hollow stomachs, Most of the concerns still revolve around the play areas to be created or the "quantities" considered insufficient in the plates in the canteen.

We are still far from the challenges of the founder's motto: "A good city for children is a good city for everyone", but after all, is it crazy to dream of a zip line in the schoolyard? ?

If the city were restored to children's games, meetings and exchanges between generations, "this would ensure that a miracle happens! #39;accomplish", confirms Tonucci, "and that security returns to the streets". Playing rodeo, cowboys and Indians in the urban area could therefore rediscover its original meaning?

A lab “with and for children”

The laboratory will be composed of three groups. Children and young people: members of the Municipal Children's Council, the Municipal Youth Council, children and adolescents attending Montpellier Leisure Centers Without Accommodation (ALSH). External experts: members of associations, researchers and scientists, witnesses to experiments carried out in other countries (Spain, Netherlands, Denmark…). Internal experts: staff from the city and metropolis of Montpellier, and associated organizations (SERM, ACM…) designated as 'Children's City' referents.

Two work sequences are on the program. From March to June 2024: Collection of wishes and proposals from children and co-construction with them and volunteer experts a charter "City suitable for children". From September 2024: Launch of a broad child-adult reflection in the form of thematic commissions.

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