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Thinking “Safer Streets for Children”. And living with paradox


How do we really tackle children’s fatalities and injuries on South Africa’s roads? How do we work with culture, organisations and individuals each constrained by limited resources?

Tomorrow I am part of a (great) team of people – a collaboration between Childsafe and Open Streets Cape Town – asking the question “how can we make safer streets for children” as part of a breakfast event. In the build-up we have talked about how to move child road safety from an abstract thing – at a distance from us – to something more real and tangible, as it is for families who have lost children. We believe that we need to somehow put the precious human being back into the safety statistics. To put the real children – with their lived experiences and their playful ways of being in the world – at the front of the discussions. When we do this we are honouring the children who are lost through remembering them in their uniqueness. Not only as another number. We also take on board what they can teach us about joy and playfulness.

This art installation at Red Cross Children’s Hospital, with painted silhouettes of 50 children lost on Cape Town’s roads last year is a reminder of that loss – and that childlike sense of joy and possibility.

I’m hoping that tomorrow’s event can work with that paradox of sitting with the inevitable sadness and the playfulness together. In order to make real progress in this area we need to learn to sit more often with both. Only when we do this can we break through from resignation (“nothing can be done”)…to a sense of possibility and excitement about what the future can hold.

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