Walk organisers: Inštitut za politike prostora / Institute for spatial policies and Paz!Park
Walk Leader: Maja Simoneti
Photographs by: Tadej Žaucer
On this walk Neža, Lev, Zoran and Izidor and their friends took us on their everyday route to the kindergarten and school. They are lucky. They live close to their school, their neighbourhood is quite safe and interesting, and what counts most, their parents are willing to chaperone them to school by foot. They don’t have to drive in a car every day.
As we slowly traced their route we discovered the benefits of everyday walking by listening to the stories of kids, parents, teachers and even passersby. Urška, Lev and Zoran’s mom, explained to us how she always walks too fast for the boys, and they gleefully jumped into her story. One could almost feel how much fun they have everyday.
On our way we stopped on the wide sidewalk by the kindergarten and met one of the teachers with a group of children. She told us they are exploring the streetscape and local neighbourhood on a regular basis so that kids would feel as safe and accepted in public space. This type of exploring both exposes the kids to public life and also makes local people are aware of them and make traffic adapt to their presence.
Together we walked to the school and listened to Neža’s story. She is old enough to walk unchaperoned and every day she walks to school with her friend. On their walks they do all sorts of things: they practice walking quickly in case they are out late at night, they explore their area and learn what is around. They don’t like the high fence by the construction site and they try not to walk by it. It has been there for years and is getting a bit scary with nothing going on there.
At the end our dynamic group met with the teacher who is responsible for traffic education. He waited for us in front of the school with a group of kids and parents practicing safe biking skills. During our walk two journalists joined along and who reported on the experience in the daily news with great enthusiasm.
The playful way of discovering the joy of walking and its benefits resonated with the group. They enjoyed thinking about the positive aspects of the neighbourhood’s walkability and how important walking is for kids’ and parents’ mental and physical health and also being able to enjoy the high quality of public space. Everyone in the group left the day feeling inspired to walk more and to encourage the city to promote and embrace walkability more, too.