October is for walking to school

Play groundWhen I found myself in this privileged part of Helsinki one of the things that immediately struck me was the presence of children. The back of the local school (built 1906-1908) is visible from my desk as I write and audible during breaks. I see and hear kids walking and running around all the time. Small kids too go about their daily business, not just in the playground at the end of the park (the astroturf mound was not there when I was a regular around 40 years ago, but otherwise it’s not changed that much) but visiting each other, ringing doorbells and just being.

I wonder whether they know how lucky they are to be able to grow up like this?

Meanwhile, Americans reportedly (in the New York Times) don’t know how to resist the silliness of driving a 7-year-old 5 houses down the same side of the street even if they know it’s crazy. And the UK puts on stunts and events to entice parents to let their kids do what’s good for them – walk.

Is it because traffic in Helsinki is slower? Or is it that the paranoia just hasn’t reached us quite yet?

They must at least be worried about obesity though. The city is putting on free exercise events for teenagers during the up-coming autumn half-term holiday.


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