What is this research about?
This research program, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, is happening in partnership with the Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation and Kingston Gets Active. Our team aims to implement and then evaluate the effects of two types of street-based initiatives in Kingston – School Streets and Play Streets. While School Streets and Play Streets are common in Europe, and growing in popularity in Canada, their effects have not be comprehensively studied. We are seeking to examine the extent to which these initiatives can increase children’s engagement in outdoor free play, independent mobility, and active transportation, using Kingston as a study site. A parallel study is happening in Montreal, which will offer important insights regarding the unique contextual features that shape the ways in which these initiatives operate. The Montreal team is led by Dr. Katherine Frohlich at the University of Montreal, in partnership with the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre.
What is a School Street?
School Streets involve closing streets adjacent to elementary schools to through-traffic at the beginning and the end of the school day. By reducing traffic congestion around the school drop-off/pick-up zone, School Streets provide a safe, traffic-calmed zone for children to come and go from school on a daily basis using active modes of travel. School Streets offer numerous other benefits for children, including increasing their readiness to learn and their connections with peers. The reduced traffic congestion around school sites also reduces air and noise pollution, and increases opportunities for social interactions among adults. In Canada, School Streets have been tested in several communities. Presently, Isaac Brock Public School in Winnipeg is running a School Street for the 2020-2021 school year, while Vancouver is pilot testing School Street initiatives at three elementary schools in the Spring of 2021.
What is a Play Street?
Play Streets involve closing local streets in residential areas to traffic to enable children and adults in the neighbourhood to use the street for outdoor free play and socialization. Play Streets have emerged in response to the mounting evidence that young children are spending considerably less time engaged in outdoor free play than previous generations. This trend is partly attributable to the high levels of vehicular traffic on streets, and the hostile environment this creates for children wanting to play in their neighbourhoods. Play Streets offer children opportunities to reclaim their streets for play, while providing opportunities for physical activity and peer interaction. Cities across Canada, including Toronto and Edmonton, are increasingly recognizing the opportunities that Play Streets provide for fostering neighbourhood cohesion, and are seeking ways to make these initiatives more accessible to the public.
What the project entails?
Our team is looking to partner with two elementary schools and two residential communities in Kingston to implement and evaluate two School Street and two Play Street initiatives for an entire year (i.e., September-June for the School Streets, and September-August for the Play Streets). We plan to launch one School Street and one Play Street in September 2021, and the second School Street and second Play Street in September 2022. The School Street initiatives would run daily for the entire school year, and the Play Street initiatives would run at least twice per week.
Discussions are currently in progress for a School Street with a Kingston-based school. More details will be made available once this commitment is finalized.
Greenwood Park Play Street: Call for Applications
We are currently seeking applications from residents from Greenwood Park for the Play Street initiative planned for a September 2021 launch. Interested residents from the Greenwood Park neighbourhood can apply for a Play Street in their area at the following link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeoibBRQsHVSbjOKOdRpzZUAXUdqY98fMriyU0FVtX90vd_Sw/viewform. Please apply by May 3, 2021.
Information about the Greenwood Park Play Street opportunity is available on this flyer: