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Improving vitality in child-friendly cities: Case study of the 22 Bahman District, Kermanshah, Iran

Author: 
Mina Ganji Morad, Sahar Khodabakhshi and Sina Ganji Morad
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

A healthy lifestyle requires having an adequate amount of allocated time and space for recreational activities. In today’s complex and modern urban lifestyle, children must balance completing many different tasks at home or school into their day. In order to successfully achieve these goals while maintaining emotional and physical health, children require dedicated time and space free from chores and other responsibilities. It is crucial for children to channel excess energy into cultural and socially-acceptable activities providing them with pleasure and fulfillment. Therefore, spaces with elements of recreational activities are essential for the growth and livelihood of children in metropolitan areas, encouraging vitality as seen in child-friendly cities. Many urban living spaces in Kermanshah, Iran are smaller and more compact than those of other cities. This is due to many different factors, including geographical altitude, cultural preferences, recent population growths, clashes between new construction and old town layouts, and the high cost of living spaces in the city. Although Kermanshah possesses an old charm and many unique features, it seems to lack space for child-friendly leisure activities. The focus of this study is to assess the basic elements that could aid in the transformation of Kermanshah into a child-friendly city. The subjects of this study are children, aged 9 to 12 years old, who reside in the 22 Bahman district of Kermanshah. There were a total of 50 subjects; each was given a Yes/No questionnaire of statements regarding factors we believe will improve Kermanshah for its youth. These essential factors were determined based on various criteria that promote the creation of child-friendly cities. These include 1. Comfort and security, 2. Connection with nature, 3. Enjoyment of local history/culture/collective identity, 4. Attractiveness and originality, 5. Readability; 6. Accessibility, 7. Presence of intellectual and recreational activities for youth, and 8. Availability of outdoor programs for youth with disabilities were discussed. Subjects were asked to propose new ideal elements, such as buildings and open spaces for their city, to promote further physical and mental development of youths. It is believed that the ideal environment should include natural elements, complex spaces, safety, and tranquility. The design principles of the study are as follows: urban open spaces with stimulating surfaces, game makers through the use of natural elements such as plants, light, and shadows; a relaxing atmosphere of safe and secure urban spaces; complex and challenging spaces including flexible buildings and educational objects; areas for sports activities; and entertainment for children and their adult family members.

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