Children share ideas for new Żabbar play area with ministers

2,000sqm of government land in Żabbar have been designated as children’s safe play area.

Children’s concept designs for their dream play area in Żabbar were shared with four ministers today, as part of a unique process to have child participation at the forefront of policy decisions that affect them.

The local council, together with the government, has dedicated 2,000 square metres of land in the heart of Żabbar to serve as a safe, open, inclusive, environment-friendly space for children and to resurrect a community spirit in a fast-moving world.

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society chair, said: “This is the culmination of a months-long exercise where more than 500 children were tasked with sharing their aspirations and designs for the area that will then be brought to life by professional architects. This is an initiative the government should be proud of.”

DAA Haus Group’s Keith Pillow has already translated the children’s desires into creative and innovative designs, and once these are finalised by the architects they will be submitted to the Planning Authority, with works set to start in the first quarter of next year.

This is not a one-off initiative. The MFWS is pleased the government is committed to dedicate similar spaces in six other localities, where through consultation with the schools, local councils and other stakeholders, a safe, inclusive space for all children and a green lung for the community is created.

The partners in this project, Mat-Tfal Għat-Tfal, include Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, Local Government Minister Jose Herrera, and Education Minister Owen Bonnici with the full collaboration of Żabbar mayor Jorge Grech.

The idea is that the local council will have a children’s council and that this space will be populated with non-formal education where, through the input of the Malta Trust Foundation, leadership skills and self-confidence can be nurtured in a fun, safe space.

At a press conference held this morning at St Margaret College Żabbar Primary School, the children excitedly shared the creative designs they had prepared with the ministers, which had to cater for children with any form of disability.

The designs included fountains, areas for a zip-line and trampoline, a petting zoo, a boċċi pit for the elderly, a treehouse, solar panels to power the space, a gardening and flowering spot, bicycle tracks, and a family picnic area, among others.

During this morning’s event, the MFWS also announced an online consultation process, in collaboration with the four ministries, to start collecting the feedback and designs of children aged four to 18 for the open spaces in the remaining six localities.

The United Nations Convention of the Right of the Child recognises the right of all children to engage in play, rest and leisure and take part in cultural and creative activities. Article 12 of this Convention explicitly highlights the right of all children to be heard and taken seriously in matters that concern them.

Coleiro Preca said: “The community feeling that was once one of the fundamental characteristics of the Maltese society and a healthy context for children’s development, is diminishing, which is why the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society embarked on this initiative to create these spaces with the children as the focus and in partnership with the relevant Ministries.”