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Article categories: Archive News

Children want an outdoor pool and more free hobbies

Published: 30.3.2023

A group of fifth graders and pre-schoolers were asked to tell their opinions on the Ravilaakso playground and the local events for children. The children’s panel is Vaasa’s new way of involving the children in primary schools and daycares in local decision-making.

If it was up to the preschoolers of Pikku Kasarmi daycare, Vaasa would get an outdoor pool. These preschoolers participated in Vaasa’s very first children’s panel, held in March.

– The children’s panel is an influencing channel reserved for children in primary schools and daycares. The panel discusses various topical ventures and issues of the city and offers their ideas of how to proceed with them, explains project planner Anni Toivanen.

Children’s panel had a pilot round in the beginning of March. It involved fifth graders going to Onkilahti comprehensive school and Vikinga skola as well as two groups of pre-schoolers at Pikku Kasarmi daycare.

The children were asked to give their opinion on the artwork-playground equipment to be built on Ravilaakso’s market square, on the next steps of the child-friendly municipality model, and finally, on the children’s culture festival Lätäkkö (which means ‘puddle’).

A red horsie with a slide and a climbing wall

All the children were asked to throw ideas on what the new artwork doubling as playground equipment should look like. Visions were shared by drawing and writing. As the plans for the new neighbourhood of Ravilaakso develop, a “play sculpture” named Circus Horsie, created by the local artist Päivi Arenius, will be placed in the neighbourhood’s market square. Circus Horsie will be both a piece of art and a set of playground equipment.

Children’s suggestions concerning the Circus Horsie:

  • Its tail could be a slide.
  • The horse could be brown, red, it could have red and white stripes, or it could be blue, or spotted.
  • The front of the horse could be a climbing frame, then inside the horse you could climb to the slide, and you could also climb on its head.
  • The horse could be a playhouse.
  • A tunnel could go between the horse’s legs.
  • You could go inside the horse, and you would find bean bag chairs.
  • A cable slide could go down from its head.
  • Its eyes could be lamps.

Ravilaakso’s playground equipment plan is crafted in cooperation between the artist, playground equipment manufacturer and the city’s art team.

– My plan is to see what kind of wishes get repeated the most, but I will also take singular flashes of genius into account when planning the work. I do my best to incorporate the children’s wishes concerning the colour of the horse and the functions that its outer and inner parts should have. Their wishes guide the choices of all the playground equipment and elements of the park, tells Arenius.

More films and art workshops for children’s culture weeks

The panel’s fifth graders responded to a questionnaire concerning the Children’s culture weeks. They were asked what kind of events they would like to participate in and where should those events be organised. Lätäkkö – Children’s culture weeks, organised in October, is a series of events for the local children and their families.

– The children prioritised activities where they could act and move and do – art workshops and physical activities. Films were another popular request. These wishes will be presented to the Lätäkkö network and taken into account when planning the event, tells culture pedagogue Sanna Asikainen.

Vaasa implements the Child-friendly municipality model

The city of Vaasa implements the UNICEF Child-friendly municipality model. This was the third matter that employed the panellists. They were asked to vote between more slides and sliding hills, more trustworthy adults, an outdoor pool, an opportunity to influence the school diner menu, an indoor playground, and more free or affordable hobbies.

– These options are drawn from the mapping survey of the Child-friendly municipality model. The survey was conducted over the course of 2022 and responded to by hundreds of children of different ages. The options that polled most votes were outdoor pool, free or affordable hobbies and opportunity to influence the school diner menu, Toivanen lists.

These results guide the plans of the child-friendly municipality taskforce.

The children’s panel has been developed in the Vaasa with Energetic Citizens project, partly funded by the Ministry of the Environment’s Sustainable City programme.

– We want to provide a chance for all the region’s primary schools and daycares to apply for the panel in the upcoming years, Toivanen explains.