From Childhood Needs to Urban Reality 1920x380


From childhood needs to urban reality: strategies to engage kids in urban design

Hosted by Urban95 Academy | LSE Cities and the van Leer Foundation

Online and In-person event (MAR.2.04, Marshall Building, LSE)


Francisca Benitez

Francisca Benitez

Silvia Amoros

Silvia Amoros

Joana Dabaj

Joana Dabaj


Savvas Verdis

Savvas Verdis

Planners, designers and policy makers tasked with creating safe urban environments need to consider how children can offer input into local challenges. Hearing from children helps to clarify priorities and contribute to design solutions.

Engaging children, youth, and caregivers should be a common practice in any street transformation project. Cities that are designed with the needs of kids and caregivers in mind better serve everyone using them, from older adults to people with disabilities.

This event previews the Global Designing Cities Initiative's upcoming publication, “How to Engage Kids in Street Design”. A resource offering actionable tools, methodologies, and step-by-step guidance to facilitate meaningful engagement with kids in the street design process.

Francisca Benitez of the Global Designing Cities Initiative will present the publication and its strategies to tailor engagement approaches for different age groups and contexts, ensuring that even the youngest children, through their parents and caregivers, have their priorities acknowledged. Developing effective participatory practice is essential to delivering supportive and nurturing urban spaces where young people and caregivers can thrive.

Francisca Benitez will be joined for a discussion by Silvia Amoros from Waltham Forest Council, (an Urban95 Academy alumnus) and Joana Dabai, Co-founder of the advocacy group Catalytic Action to discuss the theory and practice of creating an inclusive and participatory environment by incorporating kids' voices and ideas into the street design decision-making process.

Meet our speaker, respondents and chair:

Francisca Benitez is a Program Manager with the Streets for Kids team at the Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI), where she oversees street design implementations in multiple countries and projects focused on Early Childhood Development, recognizing the importance of inclusive and stimulating urban environments for young children. She is passionate about creating inclusive and vibrant streets for people of all ages to meet and spend time together. During the last year, Francisca has been researching and creating tools and methodologies to engage kids in the street design process.

Silvia Amoros is an Architect and Urban Planner. Throughout her two decades of experiences, she has participated in the definition and management of major processes of urban transformation in Barcelona and in London. Recently she has worked in the London Borough of Waltham Forest leading large scale regeneration projects and is an alumnus of the Urban95 Academy.

Joana Dabaj 

Joana Dabaj is the co-founder of CatalyticAction, a charity that works to empower vulnerable children, youth and their communities through participatory built interventions. She is an architect and researcher whose recent work revolves around working closely with displaced and host communities in Lebanon to co-design inclusive research and built interventions; this includes participatory research, co-design and community engaged implementation of built interventions with a focus on play and the public realm.

Savvas Verdis is the Co-Director of the Executive Masters’ in Cities at LSE Cities and a Senior Lecturer in Practice at the LSE School of Public Policy. He also acts as a consultant to city and national governments on urban infrastructure strategies and the evaluation of urban projects.

More about the event:

The Urban95 Academy is a fully funded leadership programme, delivered online over six weeks, to help city leaders design better cities for young children and their caregivers.

LSE Cities is an international centre that investigates the complexities of the contemporary city. It carries out research, graduate and executive education, outreach and advisory activities in London and abroad.

The van Leer Foundation is an independent Dutch organisation working worldwide to ensure that all babies and toddlers have a good start in life. We inspire and inform large-scale action that improves the health and wellbeing of young children – especially the most vulnerable – and the people who care for them.

Event Hashtag: #U95Academy


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