Best Headline of the Week “Freo council bows to powerful children’s lobby, approves park”

This amusing article about kid power in Freo appeared in the Age and WA Today this week. It is a very Freo story and is worth a read…

“Freo council bows to powerful children’s lobby, approves park” by  Emma Young
Outspoken children in Hilton have successfully lobbied their local council to create a local park from an underused space, threatening that without one they would be “bored forever”.

Local mother Karina Tedesco said residents had wanted a local park for a long time.

Developers had not included one when the area was developed and children, not allowed to go alone to neighbourhood parks because it meant crossing Carrington or South Streets, resorted to playing on the Anchor Food Factory verges.

Plans for a pocket park on the east end of Clarke Street, Hilton, were discussed in council almost a decade ago but had been blocked by a “vocal minority”.

“Oldies came out of the woodwork, threatened to lie down in front of bulldozers,” Ms Tedesco said.

In 2007, a park was discussed again but nothing eventuated.

Finally, the City wrote to residents offering to consult on a pocket park in a cul-de-sac, even inviting children to workshop the design.

They were given A3 printouts of an aerial image of the site, playdough, pipe cleaners and coloured matchsticks and told to build their dream park to give the council ideas for the final plan.

When the plan went before Council, local parents and children were determined this time, it would not be voted down.

Mothers came with letters from their children, and 10-year-old, Xanthe West, came with her father and read hers out directly to Council.

Xanthe told the councillors that other Hilton parks were great.

“Let’s say, for example, Black Stump Park, that one’s good,” she said.

“But it’s not always easy. We all have to cross South Street. It is a busy as well as very risky road to cross. One day, there was a lady who got hit at the crossing lights there. My mum, my sister Niamh and I were at the doctors at the time, when she was raced into the nurses’ room. That’s how dangerous it really is. How nice would it be, not having to cross any dangerous roads like that to get to a park.”

“When Xanthe got up to speak, you should have seen the mayors face. It was this mixture of impressed and “is she allowed? Shock!” Ms Tedesco said.

“She spoke so eloquently and was so composed for a 10-year-old.”

Ms Tedesco read letters from her 10-year-old Adelia, who was not allowed to go to the bigger parks on her own.

“If I had a park, I could be more energetic and happy because when I go out I would be running around at a park rather than staying at home inside all day,” she wrote.

The letter from her brother, eight-year-old Jaden, was short and to the point.

Dear Council, my name is Jaden and I am 8 years old. If we do not build this park, kids will be bored forever!” he wrote.

“Well, maybe not forever, but for a long time. Jaden.”

Council approved the park unanimously.

The final design for a 600-square-metre park sandwiched between two main roads and an industrial site includes everything the children asked for.

And it wasn’t just kids hanging out for it, Ms Tedesco said.

“There is a Street by Street group in the area that gathers every once in a while for afternoon tea or a bake off or Christmas drinks and it’s often done in someone’s backyard around there,” she said.

“This is a tight knit community and there are all ages involved and we are so excited to have somewhere to meet.”

The plan also aims to make the park inviting for industrial site workers having lunch.

The City of Fremantle is a partner of 202020 Vision, an initiative to increase urban green space 20 per cent by 2020.

202020 Vision, in partnership with The Neighbourhood Project, has just launched Park It, a 10-step video and guide to help communities transform their grey or underused spaces.

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

One Response to Best Headline of the Week “Freo council bows to powerful children’s lobby, approves park”

  1. Emma Anda says:

    What a great article! Love how involved the kids are in this. Great video too, thank you.

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