Engaging children and young people in creating resilient and healthy urban spaces

Dee, Mike (2014) Engaging children and young people in creating resilient and healthy urban spaces. In Australia-China Centre for Public Health Research Forum 2014, 1-3 August 2014, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD.


Urban public space in Australia and internationally, can be critically examined from a number of multidisciplinary standpoints, including human geography, urban design, planning, sociology, and public health. Viewing urban public space from a range of perspectives encourages different vantage points to emerge and questions around health, wellbeing and public space are increasingly topical and important in the broadest of terms, with public space being a key arena for physical activity, mental health, commercial, cultural and community life and the possibility of social inclusion.

However, in the name of urban regeneration, programs of securitisation, ‘gentrification’ ‘creative’ and ‘smart’ city initiatives refashion public space as sites of selective inclusion and exclusion (Watson 2005; Gabrys 2014). In this context of monitoring and control procedures, in particular, children and young people’s use of space in parks, neighbourhoods, shopping malls and streets, is often viewed as a threat to social order, requiring various forms of remedial action, such as being ‘designed out’ of public space (Johnson 2014). Rarely are children and young people actively and respectfully brought into planning and governance processes and consequently many urban public spaces are essentially adult places, where control and ongoing surveillance are the key concerns (Freeman 2011, Dee 2013).

There is also a political economy of public space discernable in cities like Brisbane, where ‘flagship’ infrastructure such as road tunnels take pride of place, while more humbly appointed pedestrian footpaths are often narrow, in a poor state of repair and a potential barrier to good health (Atkinson and Easthope 2009). The recent development of bikeways in Brisbane is a case in point, presenting both challenges and opportunities in being a valuable new form of public space heavily used by ‘commuter cyclists’ by day, but poorly lit and conceived, for a range of users at other times (Wyeth 2014).

This paper concentrates on questions of social citizenship rights and discourses of health and wellbeing and suggests that cities, places and spaces and those who seek to use them, can be resilient in maintaining and extending democratic freedoms, calling surveillance, planning and governance systems to account (Smith 2014). The active inclusion of children and young people better informs the implementation of public policy around the design, build and governance of public space and also understandings of urban citizenship, leading to healthier, more inclusive, public space for all (Jacobs 1965).

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ID Code: 76139
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Children, Young People, Public Space, Health, Urban
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Community Child Health (111704)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Urban Sociology and Community Studies (160810)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The Author
Deposited On: 12 Sep 2014 03:15
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2015 00:58

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