Updated: Jul 20
This post was submitted by Teach the Future's Netherlands Hub.
Children want more speed bumps and zebra crossings in Breda (the Netherlands)
"On de Tilburgseweg (a street in Breda), it is almost impossible to cross at all. All the cars drive fast there and there is no zebra crossing anywhere," reads Tess van der Plas. She sits on a high throne, just like the king and queen at the Troonrede (yearly speech of the Dutch King). Tess is Minister of her neighbourhood and together with nineteen other children they made this year's KinderTrendrede (Futures Manifesto), with their vision of the future for the city. They read it solemnly to a large audience in Electron (creative hub in Breda, Netherlands) and handed it over to one of the cities aldermen.
More speed bumps and pedestrian crossings for safer roads in the neighborhoods tops the list of five recommendations in the KinderTrendrede. And at number four, get rid of boring, wet, broken playgrounds. Fix it! The KinderTrendrede dives into the neighborhoods of this edition. Because the future of the city starts there, in the playgrounds, fields and schoolyards. So, no better team than Chatime's (program for young children to report about their neighborhood) ministers for the annual vision of the future for children from grades six, seven, and eight. Chatime and the KinderTrendrede, therefore, joined forces and got to work with the children.
"The field in the playground in Loenhoutstraat is often completely flooded. It is a very big puddle and in winter it also freezes."
Youth are increasingly allowed to participate in the municipality's future plans. During Verbeter Breda's (a local program to support the city of Breda) many conversations and working sessions, it became clear how important children and young people feel that they are taken seriously and involved. That we do not talk about youth, but with youth. That message is starting to resonate; children and young people are being asked in the making of the new living vision of the city, the new culture policy and a new youth policy framework that the municipality is currently developing.
The next step is also already resonating, as "Are you going to do anything with our advice now?", Otto van den Beemt asks alderman Peter Bakker, who receives the KinderTrendrede. The audience applauds this brave question.
Will the advice of the KinderTrendrede actually taken to heart, or better yet, implemented? At least one piece of advice, one that the children kept harping on in past KinderTrendrede’s: there is too much rubbish on the streets. For example, last year's number 6 was: empty rubbish bins more often in busy places. And in the 2020 edition, number 2 was: Let's, everyone in Breda, stop throwing rubbish on the streets!
Last March, the time had come: two neighborhood Ministers from the Heuvel (a neighborhood in Breda) really wanted an extra bin next to the schoolyard, because the bin in the schoolyard disappeared behind the closed gate after school hours. So how could the children dispose of their rubbish? Mayor Depla personally came to open the bin. A festive activity for the children. Not just because they got a bin, but because they had really been heard.
Students from Avans (University of Applied Science in Breda) Open Innovative Studio also got to work on this year's KinderTrendrede. Five groups of students worked on the recommendations of the 2022 edition and made prototypes, a first version of the solutions they came up with. These included a design for the app Breda Leert (studies), which allows all children in Breda to receive free tutoring from young people and older volunteers (advice 2 of edition 2022). And students developed a green zone for cyclists, with a ribbon of cat eyes on cycle paths (a combination of three advices on traffic in Breda in the KinderTrendrede of 2022). The prototypes are now waiting for students, entrepreneurs and financers to turn the prototypes into products.
For the advice with thresholds and zebra crossings at the top of this KinderTrendrede, presenter Bart Borghouts has fortunately already brought a solution: he has a rolled-up zebra crossing with him and is rolling it out across the stage. "Every child can bring their own zebra crossing and roll it out when they want to cross," he suggests. Does neighborhood Minister Djulien van der Heijden want to give his opinion on that? Who takes a critical look at it and then says: "I don't think it will work."
We look forward to future presentations from young thinkers at KinderTrendrede and Teach the Future’s HUB in the Netherlands.
Learn more about Kindertrendrede and the Teach the Future Dutch Hub here: https://www.kindertrendrede.nl/
See videos as described below:
Noah Schillemans, student of Industrial Design is working with children on products to help make streets safer and parks cleaning. See the video (in Dutch) here.
Learn how Kindertrendrede is engaging youth in solving common urban problems, like graffiti and flooding here.
Photos by Stefanie Vermeulen. Special thanks to Zina Burgers for her work on this project.