A scheme founded in Bristol which encourages children to play outside safely is being recognised at this year’s Mirror Pride of Sport Awards.
Playing Out was launched in the summer of 2009 by mum Alice Rose and her friend Amy at Greville Road in Southville.
A group of parents of children at Ashton Gate Primary School in Bedminster had got together after becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of safe spaces for their children to play.
The group struck on the idea of closing the road on the basis for having a street party, but instead of putting on a party, just to use the road as a safe place for local children to play outside their own homes.
The idea was well received, with lots of children coming out to play and socialise – with some even meeting for the first time despite being neighbours.
After seeing the success of the scheme, other parents decided they wanted to do something similar in their street.
A small amount of funding was granted by Bristol City Council to pilot the Playing Out initiative in other areas of Bedminster.
Playing Out co-director Ingrid Skeels said: “It became very much a parent-led movement.
“Parents saw what Alice and Amy did and wanted to do it on their own streets to give their children a chance to be active in a safe space and socialise and make friends.”
Word about Playing Out started to spread with more and more parents getting involved.
Now there are more than 1,000 Playing Out street communities across the UK.
An average of 30 children take part in each session – which can see a road closed once a week – meaning across Britain around 30,000 children have benefited from the initiative.
The scheme has also been copied in towns as far afield as Taiwan and Australia.
Previously under council legislation, communities were only allowed to apply for three street closures a year.
But seeing the success of Playing Out, Bristol City Council changed its policies meaning streets could be closed once a week for the sessions.
Sixty eight other councils across the UK have now followed suit and adopted the same policy, allowing the Playing Out scheme to grow.
Ingrid said: “Across the UK it is being recognised more and more that children need safe spaces to play in front of their front door.
“This is something which was enjoyed by so many of the parents when they were young who want the same for their children.
“These parents are now reclaiming these spaces for their children in their own communities.
“Playing Out helps them to socialise, become more active and make new friends.
The scheme is to be honoured with a Special Recognition Award at the awards, held in partnership with TSB, at a glittering ceremony at Grosvenor House in London’s Park Lane tonight (December 4).
The star-studded awards, which are backed by Sport England and now in their sixth year, celebrate the unsung heroes of grassroots sport, rewarding those who have gone the extra mile to help others achieve their goals and those who have triumphed against adversity.
Sporting legends and other famous faces from the worlds of sport and showbiz due to attend include host Ben Shephard, Sir Kenny Dalglish, Dina Asher-Smith, Gareth Thomas, Dame Kelly Holmes, Hannah Cockcroft, Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson, Sir Chris Hoy, Greg Rutherford, Sam Quek, Sally Gunnell, Thom Evans, Iwan Thomas, Will Bayley, Jamie and Rebekah Vardy, Jason Leonard, Graeme Souness, Samira Mighty, Eyal Booker, Zara McDermott, Harry Judd, Danny Jones, Andy Cole, Alex and Olivia Bowen, Ovie Soko, Mark Foster, John Barnes and Billy Monger.
(Image: Phil Harris)
Host Ben Shephard said: “This has been such a fantastic year for British sport, with moments that have brought the whole nation together.
“But there would be no World Cups, or gold medals, or World Championships for us all to celebrate without grassroots sport, which is why I love this event.
“Our winners are amazing and inspirational, and I can’t wait to meet them.”
Debbie Crosbie, Chief Executive Officer, TSB said: “At TSB we’re very proud of our partnership with Pride of Sport.
“The awards provide an opportunity to celebrate incredible people who harness the power of sport in their local communities to achieve extraordinary things.”
To find out more about the Pride of Sport Awards 2019 visit www.prideofsportawards.co.uk.
You can watch the Pride of Sport Awards live on Facebook from 6pm on Thursday December 5 at @prideofsport
It can also be viewed on Youtube from Wednesday, December 11 at www.youtube.com/prideofsportawards.
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