Design For + By Kids
Small Worlds + Hands-on Learning
Kids love small worlds that are designed just for them or that they had a hand in creating. Kids have long chalked their own streets on sidewalks and build cities out of blocks and boxes. We make the most of those two passions to involve kids in learning through their own experiences. Whether riding a bike in a traffic garden or gluing street parts to base drawings, we believe in gentle and thoughtful adult guidance that leads children to important realizations and encourages them to take off independently. From our travels and interviews, we know that the traffic garden experience makes a lifetime impression. Countless grown-ups have recounted their favorite memories of a childhood safety town or traffic park visit. We believe that the lessons embedded in that experience stick and become a fundamental part of learning about street operation and how to safely use streets.
Here at Traffic Garden HQ, we believe that traffic gardens provide an amazing opportunity for children to develop a deeper understanding of the built world too. We want to help kids grow up understanding that the everyday world is a designed place that can be improved and that they have a role in creating better safer infrastructure. What better way to learn about the built world than total part in a traffic garden real-world traffic garden project. Planning these small street networks provides a unique opportunity to add easy design lessons about very big ideas. At every opportunity, Discover Traffic Gardens engages children in the design process and facilitates creating real-life projects from their work. We emphasize hands-on engagement by hosting collaborative design sessions, where children learn about the principles of traffic garden design, draft their own layouts, and test their ideas on a model site. They submit their design proposals to our "City Hall", as a means of understanding the civic engagement process. We work with public officials to deploy the children's ideas to inform the layout of a real traffic garden. Our dream projects are where those children are later invited to attend a ribbon-cutting for a traffic garden they personally helped design and where they then get to ride their bikes on the streets with their pals and classmates. After years of bringing kids through this experience, we know that they are deeply proud and engaged.
Why do traffic gardens work so well to convey the big street design ideas? Kids are able to better understand and retain new information conveyed to them through interactive learning. As it is a small closed network with a simplified version of the streets, kids readily grasp the ideas and challenges.Because they are being asked to help on a project that is specifically for kids engaging in a fun activity, they relate to the challenge. As traffic gardens are tactile and three-dimensional, co-designing them is an effective means of developing the spatial skills children need to become their community's future engineers and planners! But this type of learning is not just intended just for kids who are interested in pursing a STEAM career benefit: streets are for everyone and that is core message that is embedded in every lesson. Having a whole cohort of children with increased understanding of their built world, making them smarter and safer users of the streets now and safe streets advocates of the future.
Discover Traffic Gardens is for and about people of all ages, abilities, mobilities, and backgrounds. Everyone deserves to have a voice in the creation and design of their community, and access to information that increases the safety and utility of public spaces. We seek especially to engage those who have been historically disenfranchised from their community and to reveal to the next generation that they can have a voice in their built world.
Joy and Expression
Discover Traffic Gardens invites kids to express their thoughts and ideas, and celebrate their creativity. We view the world through the lens of possibility; using recycled materials and found objects to create our design models, and encourage the use of bright colors and unique materials. Kids learn when they're having fun!