Sharjah’s Children and Youth to be Involved in Designing Public Spaces
The Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC) and Sharjah Baby Friendly Office (SBFO) have launched a new joint initiative, in collaboration with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat), with an aim to engage children and youth in the design and development of the city’s public spaces.
The initiative will be done in conjunction with UN Habitat and in partnership with the Sharjah Directorate of Public Works.
To this effect, two workshops will be held on April 8, 9 and 10. The first workshop will be organised for engineers and technicians who will be trained on how to use data collection programmes. The second workshop, carried out over two days, will target children and youth to introduce them to site analysis methods and design techniques using the famous virtual game ‘Minecraft’.
Children and youth will be engaged in a brainstorming session where they will share their views and suggestions on what they would like to have in public spaces dedicated to them, and how they should be designed. Following the workshop, participants will be divided into groups and will have the opportunity to work on designing these public spaces using Minecraft.
The participants’ ideas and models will be presented to the engineers, experts and officials from the partnering Government entities.
Eng. Khalid Al Ali, Secretary General of SUPC, said: “The project falls within SUPC's mission and vision to engage all community members, particularly children and youth, in Sharjah’s infrastructure development plans, so as to firmly establish the emirate’s status as a safe and inspiring environment.”
He noted that this could be achieved by increasing the public awareness about the rights of children and improving urban planning to ensure an integrated environment for young people.
Eng. Khaled Al Ali said that the council, a member of the Sharjah Child Friendly City Steering Committee, ensures that all its projects are carried out in line with children’s safety and security standards.
“SUPC adopts an integrated approach to strengthen its cooperation with various public and private institutions, as well as international organisations,” he added.
He also praised UN Habitat's use of Minecraft to promote community participation, noting that it introduces participants to the basics of modelling and design, as well as facilitates dialogue on issues related to public spaces, and results in innovative models that can be integrated into proposed project designs.
Speaking about the project, Dr. Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SBFO, said: “Through this initiative and our first-time partnership with UN Habitat, we seek to engage children with Sharjah’s development plans, leading to a more ingrained culture of respect for child rights.”
She added: “The main goal of this joint initiative is to transform Sharjah’s planned public space projects into a reality drawn by children and young people themselves. It also reaffirms that involving all children and youth in voicing their needs and opinions about the spaces designated for them, is one of the essential rights that Sharjah is keen to provide for children residing in the emirate.”
Al Ghazal underlined the fact that the initiative reflects the far-reaching vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and is part of the Sharjah Child Friendly City project’s 2019-2021 action plan.