BAMBINI - Teaching the next generation to step away from the car

By Pavlina Dravecka / Updated: 19 Feb 2015

Many national and EU-wide projects have worked with children and young people to teach them about the personal, economic and ecological advantages of sustainable mobility modes. In particular active modes, like walking and cycling have many positive implications for individuals, including improved health, fitness, as well as financial savings. However, projects that targeted children so far have focused on children of primary school age or older. But today, many children lead an increasingly sedentary life, being driven everywhere by car, including to kindergarten.

In addition children  learn from their parents’ example; so it is important to start ‘planting the seeds’ for the enjoyment and the skills required for an active life style early; even as early as in pre-birth classes.

The BAMBINI project has recognised that how children behave in early childhood is likely to affect their behavior as adults. BAMBINI is the first Europe-wide project that targets the mobility behaviour of very young children (0 – 6 years), their parents, as well as the attitudes of decision makers, to challenge the car culture prevalent in Europe in order to get children active.

As children can best be approached and taught through play, one innovative tool used by the project was specially created toys and books. The Polish toy producing company, BAJO, also a project partner, has produced special BAMBINI toys focusing on soft mobility modes that are now a part of their product line and available on the general market. (See Eltis Video and bambini.bajo.eu.

By the end of the project in May 2012 BAMBINI partners from 11 different countries had managed to personally engage over 150,000 children and parents all over Europe through a range of strategies, from giving toddlers in kindergartens and crèches balance bikes, to lending bike trailers to parents to encourage them to leave the car at home.

2,600 health professionals, including teachers and staff from antenatal clinics have been trained and received detailed information about the project’s concept and ideology. They will continue, also after the end of the project, to relay these topics to their target groups (children and expectant parents) by integrating BAMBINI content in the regular activities.

Various books, games and an array of age-appropriate information materials, all produced during the project lifetime, are also available on the BAMBINI website free of charge, for parents and teachers alike.

Another focal point of the project was to ‘return’ some of the road space primarily used for cars in all European cities to children to give them the opportunity to play safely outside and to use this public space for physical activities and social interactions. To achieve these aims BAMBINI has worked with planners and city officials and managed to transform over 20 home zones and playing streets. Most of these implementations happened in France, but other partner countries were also successful. For example, as a result of BAMBINI the first Bulgarian Home Zone has now been established in the spa town or Hisarya and Romania's first Playing Street, implemented in Brasov, is likely to be repeated several times a year.  

Evaluation results demonstrate the success of the project. In total, more than 500,000 individuals, including stakeholders from the toy industry, city officials, decision makers, parents and children have been reached with targeted, printed information. Toolkits and information material for stakeholders and followers can also be downloaded on the website.

For more information please contact: Susanne Wrighton

Toolkits link: PDF

 

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