Making Toronto Fun & Accessible
for Children Under 12

My City Too

Project Objective

A more child friendly Toronto.

My City Too is an initiative by 8 80 Cities and EcoKids to develop a strategy to advance outdoor free play and independent mobility as cornerstones of a more child friendly Toronto.

Info / Share
  • Date: 2018 – 2019
  • City: Toronto
  • Partners: EcoKids
  • Advisory support: UNICEF Canada and Green Communities Canada
  • Funding provided by: Ontario Trillium Foundation

The goal of My City Too is to illustrate how adopting a child centered lens can make an already great city even greater, more inclusive, and joyful.

For this project, we focused on outdoor free play and independent mobility for children under 12 in Toronto.

Outdoor free play refers to child-led, imaginative, unstructured play that takes place outdoors. Opportunities for this type of play have drastically waned over time, due to changes in work patterns, dangerous street design and traffic, parental concerns, and the rise of indoor entertainment options. Instead, modern childhood takes place indoors in highly structured, regulated, adult-supervised and goal-oriented environments. Community and play are increasingly found online rather than the outdoors.

Access to outdoor free play has been compromised in part by decreasing rates of children’s independent mobility. Independent mobility refers to the ability for a child to move around their neighbourhood or city on their own, typically by walking, biking, and/or public transit. Studies have shown that Toronto children increasingly rely on adults to drive them to everyday destinations.

There is abundant research that recognizes that both outdoor free play and independent mobility are important to children’s physical, social, cognitive and emotional well-being. According to UNICEF, there is a high correlation between children’s well-being and their freedom to travel and play without adult supervision.

Over the course of a year, we reviewed academic studies and policy documents from around the world, interviewed international experts and leaders in the field, and spoke with over 200 parents, caregivers, children, and advocates to learn about existing barriers in Toronto and best practices to address them. We also convened with municipal initiatives, non-profit organizations, and private enterprises working in this space, and identified the resources and assets we can build on to make Toronto a more child friendly city.

My City Too culminated in a report laying out our findings and our ten major recommendations to address barriers to outdoor free play and independent mobility, and expand upon Toronto’s incredible assets. Read the report here or download a copy here.

My City Too was generously funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation with advisory support from UNICEF Canada and Green Communities Canada.

We also worked closely with the City of Toronto’s Child Friendly TO initiative. Check out our joint statement here.

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