Nürnberg – What does a good playground actually look like? “Lots of space to run,” says eleven-year-old Amina. For the twelve-year-old Runa, several swings should hang side by side so that she can swing with all of her friends at the same time. And that’s exactly how it will turn out, because the two girls helped plan the playground together with other children from the Gostenhof district of Nuremberg.
Whenever the city of Nuremberg builds or fundamentally renovates a new playground, the children from the neighborhood have a say. “That not only makes sense, it is also urgently needed,” says Doris Lindner, who is responsible for playing area planning at the youth welfare office. After all, the children are the ones who are supposed to have fun there. In practice, however, playgrounds in cities tend to be squeezed into gaps. A sandpit, a rocker, a fence around it, done. Examples of such desolate “playgrounds of horror” can be found again and again on social networks.
Lindner has been doing this job for more than 20 years and knows from experience that children often have completely different ideas than adults. “We go there with a blank sheet of paper and first listen to everything that comes up,” she says. Of course, many children wanted slides, swings and climbing frames. But there are also unusual suggestions such as a swimming pool, a roller coaster or a kebab stand.
Not everything can be implemented in exactly the same way, says Lindner. But many ideas could be taken up in modified form. And if the young people involved do not ultimately like the design of the landscape architects’ office, they will start over again. “We take children’s participation very seriously,” says Lindner. Even if it costs more time and money at first, it pays off in the end. “The satisfaction is much greater.”
According to the German Family Association, it should be like in Nuremberg everywhere, but it is not. “We really have some catching up to do in Germany. In other countries it has been the norm for years for children to be involved, ”says Vice President René Lampe. According to Lampe, there are far too few areas for children and adolescents, especially in metropolitan areas where playgrounds are most needed. An example of this is the densely populated Kannenstieg district of Magdeburg. “There’s only one playground and it’s ugly.”
Claudia Neumann from the German Children’s Fund says that although many municipalities are increasingly involved in the planning of individual projects, they also make mistakes. Often they asked the children too late and presented ready-made plans. Or they just showed pictures of playground equipment from catalogs, and the children can only choose between one or the other swing. “It is often meant well, but poorly done,” says Neumann.