Pathways to Wellness

conversation • connection • commitment

Places to hang out

Communities which create places for people to gather, meet, visit and interact promote social connectedness. Safe, well-lit streets, a network of well-travelled trails, community centres, coffee shops, and green spaces encourage us to be social. When we design spaces that are comfortable, safe and accessible – for  children, people with disabilities, the elderly – they will work for everyone.

A US study found that when playgrounds included trees and benches, parents were more likely to supervise their children’s play and strike up conversations with their neighbours. Trees and benches are simple design features that make playgrounds safer for children and build stronger communities.

Public spaces which can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities support social relations and create social norms. A good example is the Millennium Trail in Whitehorse. At many times of the day (particularly in good weather) the trail is filled with walkers and runners, people on bicycles and roller blades, parents pushing strollers. The trail makes it easy for people to be active. Passing people you know along the way creates a sense of community and identity as people who are taking charge of their lives.

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