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Empowering Child-Centric Urban Development: A Blueprint for India’s Future child-friendly cities

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Empowering Child-Centric Urban Development: A Blueprint for India's Future child-friendly cities

In the quest for creating child-friendly cities in India, the Smart City Mission is pioneering an innovative approach. Recognizing the transformative impact of play on children’s development, cities are undergoing a paradigm shift in urban planning to cater to the unique needs of the younger population.

Jabalpur’s Trailblazing Initiative to be one of the First child-friendly cities in India:

Jabalpur stands at the forefront of this movement, poised to become the first Indian city with a dedicated focus on children in its urban planning. The city’s commitment to ensuring play opportunities within a 500-meter radius reflects a visionary approach. Jabalpur Smart City CEO, Chandrapratap Gohil, emphasizes the importance of a masterplan tailored to make the city safe and accessible for children.

The success of Jabalpur’s interventions during the COVID-19 pandemic, where barren spaces were transformed into vibrant children-friendly areas, serves as a testament to the city’s dedication. By converting waiting areas at bus stands into child-friendly spaces and creating age-specific play zones in parks, Jabalpur is setting a precedent for inclusive urban development.

Pune’s Collaborative Approach:

In Pune, the collaborative efforts between the municipality and the Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) have yielded significant improvements in 11 spot projects over the past two years. Tactical urbanism interventions, such as high-raised pedestrian crossings, showcase the city’s commitment to enhancing safe and secure spaces for children and caregivers.

The incorporation of a child-friendly master checklist in Pune’s planning further underscores the city’s commitment to ensuring that all projects are safe, accessible, inclusive, playful, and green. This toolkit acts as a guiding framework for selecting child-friendly materials and design elements, emphasizing the city’s dedication to holistic urban development and making the city one of the most vibrant child-friendly cities.

Bhubaneswar’s Data-Driven Approach:

Bhubaneswar, with the support of the Bhubaneswar Urban Knowledge Centre and BvLF, has taken a data-driven approach to map children’s amenities across its wards. This city-wide scale mapping exercise provides valuable insights into the availability of essential facilities like hospitals, parks, anganwadis, and schools.

The Bhubaneswar Development Authority’s impending mandate for child-friendly designs in public premises, including malls and housing projects, represents a groundbreaking step. The proposed 400-page draft sets the standards for private developers to incorporate child-friendly aspects into their projects.

A Holistic Vision for Child-Friendly Cities:

The endeavor to create child-friendly cities goes beyond conventional playgrounds. It encompasses a comprehensive planning process that aligns with the cognitive, physical, and social growth of children. The “play masterplan” aims to bring structural changes to every new piece of infrastructure, ensuring that play opportunities are seamlessly integrated into the fabric of urban development.

Kanak Tiwari, Program Director at the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), emphasizes the demographic significance of children in urban areas. The need for child-friendly spaces extends beyond the immediate benefits to children, creating inclusive environments that cater to the diverse needs of the community, including the elderly, disabled, and pregnant women.

A Transformative Agenda for Urban Development:

In conclusion, the push to create child-friendly cities in India represents a transformative agenda for urban development. Cities are no longer just physical spaces; they are vibrant ecosystems that shape the well-being and future of their youngest residents. The integration of play masterplans, collaborative initiatives, and data-driven mapping exercises showcases a collective commitment to building cities that prioritize the needs of children and pave the way for inclusive, sustainable, and holistic urban living.

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