Project making sure children are seen and heard

Published: 9 February 2016 at 14:53

Project to make sure children are seen and heard

Event to showcase research into how under-fives can make their mark in public

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A project focusing on how pre-school children can grow up feeling more integrated in their communities is being showcased this month.

The EU-funded Young People, Public Spaces and Democracy Project (BRIC Project) is looking into how children under five can put their stamp on public places like parks, bus stops and footpaths in order to feel part of and engage with the community around them.

Professor Tim Waller of Anglia Ruskin University is leading the BRIC Project team, working with 12 pre-schools in Italy, Sweden and the UK. The project is collaborating with business leaders, residents and politicians to try and increase the participation and awareness of these young children in the community and when planning additions or changes to public spaces.

It is hoped that by making regular visits to public spaces in their community, talking about these visits with their teachers and displaying these reflections in public spaces, youngsters will grow up feeling more integrated and more likely to learn the importance of a community.

Pre-schools from Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and London are all participating in the project, which also involves exchange trips between the pre-schools to find out more about how children engage with their surroundings in other countries and develop educational practice.

Professor Waller said: 

“Many of the public spaces in our local communities are adult-focused and don’t really offer a children’s perspective. We hope this project will show that children have a part to play in how these spaces work, that these areas are for them too, not just adults.

“Whether it is drawings alongside a footpath, a display in the village hall or posters in shopping centres, we want to raise awareness of young children’s perspectives and make sure things are done with them in mind.

“At the moment, pre-school children tend to be shut away during the day, many in buildings surrounded by large fences. We want to get them out there to be seen and heard in order to understand and participate in their own communities.”

An open public forum event is taking place at 5pm on 25 February for the community around one of the pre-schools, Chase Lane Primary School and Nursery Unit, in York Road, Chingford, E4 8LA. Members of the project team and politicians from Italy, Sweden and the UK will be present. If you would like to attend, e-mail