Wednesday December 1, 2021, 3:34 PM
Last updated: about 9 minutes ago
A research study on child-friendly towns and villages was presented on Wednesday by Children’s Commissioner Pauline Miceli.
Miceli stressed that the children themselves should be involved in the study from start to finish, to ensure that children’s rights are placed at the forefront of urban planning since they are also part of the community.
As a result of this research, Hamrun will benefit from the first pilot project, which aims to bring about positive change through the co-creation of recreational green spaces.
The research is a joint initiative between the Office of the Commissioner for Children, the Environment and Resources Authority and the Center for Resilience and Socio-Emotional Health at the University of Malta.
This research explores the views of children, parents and community actors on how Maltese villages and towns can improve their community by providing more child-friendly spaces.
The objective of this study is to promote the low-traffic city centers initiative that improves air quality, develop an understanding of children’s needs for their future environment and provide children with environmental education. which will further strengthen their aspirations for the environment.
The whole project consists of three parts, a survey of schoolchildren, parents and stakeholders; focus groups with young adults, children and stakeholders; and an applied case study where children are the main participants in bringing about positive change, especially in their locality through the development of green and child-friendly recreation spaces.
For the purposes of this launch, only the survey was presented, forming only a third of the entire project, it still presents encouraging evidence on its own, said Carmel Cauchi, director of the European Center for Resilience. educational and socio-emotional health.
The survey consisted of a sample of parents, caregivers and children and was used to find out what areas could be improved upon when creating such spaces. These areas include safety and security; recreation and play; social spaces for children and young adults; nature; cleanliness and inclusive spaces.
A total of 1,060 children and youth participated in the survey, where primary school years were represented by children between grades 4 and 6 and secondary school children were represented by children between 9 and 11. year. These children came from state, church and independent schools around Malta and Gozo.
A total of 92 primary schools and 45 secondary schools were invited to participate, where 28 primary schools and 29 secondary schools accepted. The survey was carried out by means of an online questionnaire.
Of a total of 651 responses from primary school children, 51.6% were male, while of a total of 412 secondary responses, 66.4% were female.
When representatives of primary school children were asked about their play areas, it resulted in Gozitan children being more likely to go to a playground or soccer field at least once a week. It also results in men being more likely to frequent these areas while women are more likely to go swimming. It was found that non-Maltese children frequented playgrounds and public parks more frequently than Maltese children.
When asked primary pupils where they liked to play the most, participants from the western region of Malta ticked the ‘free field’ selection more frequently than those from other regions, where participants from the northern region checked this box the least. In total, 56.7% of the non-Maltese who participated indicated that they mostly like playing in parks or public gardens, unlike the Maltese who prefer to play on football pitches.
When elementary school participants were asked if they walked or cycled in the area where they lived, it was found that participants from the Northern Harbor area are more likely than those from other areas to check “never”, while a quarter of participants from the Northern region checked “always”. Overall, it is the girls who walk or cycle the most frequently in their neighborhood, with a total of 28.8% indicating it.
When the children were asked if there was a garden, park or open natural space near their house, the Maltese participants were the most positive. As a result, participants from the Western region travel to green spaces more often on foot than those from other regions, while those from Gozo cycle more frequently.
When asked about the cleanliness present in current open spaces, Gozo obtained the highest score, while primary school students from the northern region scored the lowest. Children in Gozitan primary schools also led the way with the highest score when asked if they were involved in projects that take place in their town or village.
Gozo participants seem to be most satisfied in most of the areas available to play, which include parks, gardens and open spaces. They are also the most satisfied with the opportunities to participate in what is happening in their hometown.
Asked what areas they would like to see more improvement in, the children from Southern Harbor said they would like more safety from cars and traffic.
In the second part of the survey, focusing on high school students, it was found that only 39.4% think they have enough space to play. When it comes to how these young people prefer to go to their playgrounds, non-Maltese are the most likely to use public transport. Female participants walked to playgrounds more often than men, while men dominated playgrounds by bicycle.
When asked if they had enough places they could meet their friends, the majority believed they did, as they were mostly from Gozo. When asked what they would like to change in their locality, the majority indicated that they wanted a healthier environment, with fewer cars, construction, pollution and noise.
The survey ends with several recommendations, such as there are national indicators for the presence of child-friendly towns and villages in need of development; that there should be appointed members in local councils responsible for policy actions on how we can make villages more family and child friendly and to establish formal procedures on how to include children’s voices and young people in projects for children; strengthen green and ecological initiatives such as pedestrian zones and poles, opening of recreation areas and parks in the community for children and families, streetscape, better cleanliness and further improvement of regulation of the construction of buildings.
Michelle Piccinino, architect and CEO of the Environment and Resource Authority, said the research is important because it aligns with the national environmental strategy, which also included “Wellness First. : a vision for the environment of Malta 2050 ”. , published last November.
Michael Falzon, Minister of Social Justice and Solidarity, Family and Children’s Rights closed the event by saying that such studies shed light on the needs of children, some of whom might be overlooked by adults. present in their life.