The word ‘children’ is not one that generally springs to mind when people think about Auckland’s city centre. Suburbia has long been considered the one and only place for young families, while ‘downtown’ remained a hub of business, commercial and entertainment.
However things are changing. Though the children are not highly visible, they are a part of this population! Plunket has 909 under five year olds registered on their programme in the city centre and estimates there are likely to be around 1000 if those not registered were counted - and that’s just the under-5’s.
So where are the children? Where do they go and what do they do when they’re not at home?
Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of those parents. Some of the realities may be:
- You want your child to interact with other children but you don’t know anyone with children.
-You may not know anyone at all and feel isolated and lonely.
- Keeping children occupied and entertained in a limited space can be tiresome to say the least.
- You worry that your baby’s crying will disturb neighbouring apartment dwellers.
-You (and your child) just need a break from your ‘four walls’ for at least some part of every day.
So where can you go? Where would you feel welcome with a small child? How can you meet other parents and make friends?
For anyone new to the city, and particularly for migrant families, who often lack ‘local knowledge,’ finding answers to these questions can be difficult, and isolation is a common problem.
Enter Splice: Splice is about connecting people in the city centre, and that includes parents with children. Splice has initiated healthy physical activity groups where families can ‘play’ together and get to know each other. Splice also directs families to other organisations such as Plunket and the Central Library. Through these connections, families are provided with a range of options to get out, meet others and make friends.
As one parent commented, ‘Four years ago it was hard to find things to do with children under 5 in the city. Now I can take my child to something every day - and I’ve made so many new friends doing it.’
There is a wonderfully diverse and growing ‘community of families’ in the city centre which can only be good for both the families involved and the soul of the city.
If you have any ideas or input that might add to the city centre parents network let us know!