mid-day editorial: Let's give children the space to grow and play
With Children's Day coming up tomorrow, there's no better time for a grown up discussion about the city's urgent need for space, particularly to give our children all the room they need to grow and play. Children's Day events took off last week, with special activities for kids and the announcement of new facilities at hospitals. These initiatives are good, but what Mumbai's children need most is open space.
Two recent events come to mind. First is the battle for Nepean Sea Road's Priyadarshini Park. While the fire engine has moved out of the garden, there are real fears that eventually a portion of the space will be taken over for a fire station. In yet another case of green spaces under attack, there have been reports about the destruction of mangroves by slum dwellers. In light of these threats, it becomes imperative that we gift children the joy of space.
Today, Mumbai's children play in handkerchief-sized spaces that pass off as playgrounds; most have rubbish piled at one side, or the grounds are hijacked during festivals. Many schools do not have a playground at all, buildings have parking spaces where children play between cars. Not just activists and environmentalists, but everybody must do what they can to save our remaining open spaces from slipping away.
The few parks we have should be child-friendly. Too often, we see playgrounds with rusty, broken slides, swings with loose chains, and other playing paraphernalia in a dangerous, dilapidated condition. Recreational grounds have myriad perks. Besides the obvious physical benefits, they are also great equalizers, accessible to all classes of children. This Children's Day, let's give our children the precious, invaluable gift of a little space they can call their own.