“And they’re off!”

More and more now Shopping Centres are becoming only to aware that they need to cater for children’s requirements, as well those of adults.

Recently here in Portsmouth they levelled an old shopping precinct and have since brought it back to life as the ultimate all singing and all dancing shopping experience.

Having bought into the hype I decided to visit this flag-ship shopping mall just a few miles from me here in the village of Whitely. I have to admit that I was impressed to see that they had indeed thought this issue through, and had built a smart treetop house and provided a variety of bronze cast woodland creatures which they had secreted around the venue for any children visiting to then seek out and find. They could even tick them off a list provided on the day.

This certainly enhanced the normality of their shopping experience, and made life whole lot better for parents and grandparents alike.

Of course kids get bored; that is totally understandable! If you were being dragged off to the shops and hadn’t necessarily been impressed by this experience in your past? Then maybe you would react in a very similar manner? I hear parents saying things like “I seem to constantly be offering them little treats, usually just to ‘keep the peace’ but it works out really expensive” Again, very understandable in the present climate, where every penny counts!

Therefore, when planners are designing such places the needs of youngsters should always, in my personal opinion, be paramount. If they are hoping that parents and those responsible for children are to be encouraged to stay longer in these environments, and not feel the necessity to have to constantly make threats to their bored off-spring that they will indeed be returned straight back home, unless that is they behave themselves, stop whinging, and cease from playing them up?

It proved very different though for these little kids in Plymouth. All of whom were playing quite happily on these wooden horses whilst their parents relaxed in close proximity, reassured that they were able to keep a careful eye on their every move.

Kids have such incredible imaginations and amazingly, really don’t require too much in the way of parental intervention. Provided that is they feel they are able to express themselves and interact with each another in an arena which both they and their parents know… is completely safe.

So for these little friends who had just finished their cold drinks and had shared a sticky bun, this was the next logical thing for them to want to do. Especially as there is nothing worse than having to be told “WAIT!” or “Will you stop going on please, and just sit still?”

BUT WHY? When there are adventures to be had, and races to to be run!

So with the horses so close by…The temptation was simply too much. Luckily though the parents in this instance sanctioned them their freedom to run…

“And they’re off!”

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