There are no two ways about it – play-based learning is crucial in helping children gain a broad set of physical, social, emotional, cognitive and creative skills. However, a rapidly growing population (it is estimated that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be under the age of 18) and increasing urbanisation mean fewer places for kids to enjoy good old-fashioned play time.

Enter the Playful Cities Challenge – a global competition that encourages city-wide play initiatives by incorporating them in urban planning and design. Launched by the Real Play Coalition (RPC), a consortium comprising engineering and design group Arup, Ikea, National Geographic, the LEGO Foundation and Unicef, the Playful Cities Challenge is open to governments, cities, urban planners, architects and citizens around the world, including South Africa.

The competition is driven by the RPC’s Urban Play Framework, an assessment guideline to determining the feasibility of play in urban spaces.

Ten child-friendly urban-planning strategies will be selected and explored in a masterclass facilitated by the Real Play Coalition and public space re-inventor, the Placemaker Network, in Valencia, Spain, this May.

Image: Gallo/Getty Images

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