Shrinking Spaces

I have always thought recreational spaces were just a space for people to hang out, for chidren to play a little and more green is always good for the environment. As I watch my children growing up, I have come to realise that they do not only offer health and environmental benefits, so to speak, but they also build character and self confidence. The first time my son could climb a tree, the first my daughter could swing herself alone, and the first bicycle ride alone, how all these small achievements changed in their characters struck me. How they have become more self confident afterwards and how they were encouraged to make small life decisions like crossing the roads alone wisely or choosing to chat to another child on the playground who shares their playtime interests. Public spaces are becoming extinct in Egypt even child friendly alleys between buildings which were safe for the neighborhood kids to play with each other and share a match or two, are no longer there. Cars have taken over. A few months ago, the revolutionary urban square of Tahrir was transformed into a prestigious beautification project. A pharaonic obelisk has been installed in the middle of the square and is to be surrounded by four pharoanic statues transferred especially from Luxor. Needless to say that around twelve governmental and consultancy entities have taken part in this beautification project. Not one consultancy considered a little space for the future generations to play or cycle in. The pharaohs must be impressed. It makes me wonder how does this affect the education and the mindset of the younger generations growing up. How does growing up between walls in closed apartments in dense cities affect the way they interact with their communities in the future? How does this dictatorship of youngsters recreational spaces affect lifetime decisions such as freedom and dignity?

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