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Child Jailed for Playing Out!

March 2, 2011

The police nabbed 12-year-old George Dunn, and sent him to prison. What had he done? He and a group of friends had committed the heinous crime of playing out in the street. The others had scarpered the minute they saw the police coming, but George was the youngest and the slowest and he got caught. He was jailed for five days.

That was 1860.

The right of children to play in the steet was fought for and won  around 70 years ago when local councils got permission by law to set up official Play Streets.  Shoreditch and the Boundary had to wait a bit, but they got their own in 1950.

Children and young people need to take that right back again, believes Play Association Tower Hamlets (PATH). Playing out has declined drastically, and maybe it is no accident that young people’s health has suffered and obesity increased.

Starting this week, PATH is starting special play sessions, every Tuesday afternoon for a year (weather permitting). They will rotate from Virginia School (for pupils in their lunch hour) to Boundary Estate courtyards and then, in Easter holidays, up onto Arnold Circus. Look out for them after school for the next few weeks in the courtyard of Laleham House. We’ll let you know where they move after that.

PATH workers will bring their own equipment. They are all fully trained and CRB checked, and very friendly and open to new ideas.

So go and look for them on a Tuesday, pass the word around parents, carers and above all children. Spring is here (almost).  Time to bring play back to car-dominated streets.

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