A new community-led approach to creating more vibrant people friendly neighbourhoods has been given the green light for the South Auckland community of Wiri.
“Play Streets Wiri” empowers residents to design the way their children experience neighbourhood play on their street. The idea is to create a community-led approach that will put the design of what these events look and feel like into the hands of residents.
The new program ‘Play Streets’ has been rolled out across 13 Auckland Council group projects with funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Innovating Streets Programme.
Healthy Families South Auckland is one of the groups facilitating Play Streets events in Wiri and Takanini. Developing ideas with community members is part of the co-design process and will inform Play Street projects.
“There is so much benefit to designing with and alongside the Wiri community. The real advantage is that on ground insights can only be gathered from the people who live in those streets,” says Healthy Families South Auckland Lead Systems Innovator Andy Piutau.
Andy and his team hosted the first co-design workshop with residents from Celadon Place in Wiri to gain insight into lived experiences and realities of the neighbourhood. The session focused on understanding the streetscape and identifying what kind of activities were already taking place.
The community-led discussion raised concerns around street safety, vehicle speed, and the dangerous use of bikes in the neighbourhood.
“The co-design process gives residents the freedom to share what they know and what we can do to help encourage safe play for children and families in their street,” says Andy.
“Following our first engagement with neighbours they decided to go ahead and test some ideas which resulted in the first Play Streets planning event during the easter break.”
Celadon Place in Wiri was closed off temporarily and neighbours were drawn outside by laughter, music and the sound of children playing in the street just like the old days.
Local resident Memrohn Schwaler is keen to see more events like this take place in Wiri, she took to Facebook to express her gratitude.
“Best event ever we need more like this! (sic) and the play streets planning day actually happened,” wrote Memrohn Schwalger.
Play Streets Wiri is currently in phase one and is set to roll out more events in the coming months with a clear focus on using a by community for community approach.
“We were pleased with our first event and gathered some actionable feedback from residents that we want to explore further.”
“This is only the beginning and we hope to deliver a better experience for future Play Streets events in Wiri with the insights we have gathered in the first prototype,” Andy explains.
Residents have since met to design and submit their first application to Waka Kotahi Transport NZ to host the first official Play Streets event at Celadon Place on 15 May 2021.
For more information on how you can get involved with Play Streets contact: [email protected] or join us on Facebook @wiricommunity