It's happening! Folks fed up with underestimating kids and over-estimating danger are doing something to give kids (and parents!) back their independence. And so, Ithaca, NY, home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, has declared itself America's first "Free-Range Kids" town.
According to today's Ithaca Voice:
ITHACA, N.Y. – Kids are now officially free to be kids in Ithaca. Mayor Svante Myrick made a proclamation Wednesday, Nov. 7 declaring Ithaca a "free range kid city," where kids have a right to unsupervised time and parents have the right to grant it to them.
"We believe in the power of play," Myrick said in a statement. "Given the choice between living here, where your kids can run outside and find a bunch of friends to play with, and another city where just allowing your kids to walk home from the park could get you arrested, we know that families will joyfully choose Ithaca."
Myrick did not suggest that parents in Ithaca have been arrested for letting their kids play outdoors. There is no evidence that Ithaca parents or caretakers have faced allegations of negligence for letting kids play freely. However, a handful of such cases elsewhere have made national headlines, spurring state and city governments to consider free-range parenting legislation.
Ithaca's proclamation is non-binding, but affirms the city's support of parents who give kids unsupervised time going forward. It follows a statewide "free-range parenting" law passed in Utah last spring, which was the first of its kind. The Utah law specifically establishes that parents who let their kids have unsupervised outdoor time will not be charged with negligence.
The piece goes on to quote Rusty Keeler, author of Natural Playscapes, co--founder of the Just Play Project, and co-creator of Ithaca's "Anarchy Zone" adventure playground (which we visited -- it's fantastic), saying:
"Ithaca is already taking the lead in supporting unstructured play and getting children out and about."
Go, Ithaca! Go kids! And for more info on how you can make YOUR town a Free-Range Kids / Let Grow community, click here. To makes yours a Free-Range Parenting / Let Grow STATE, click here. To contact Rusty: Rusty@earthplay.net. Or drop us a line! Info@LetGrow.org .
Let's hear it for a place making it perfectly clear that kids are SUPPOSED to be part and parcel of the community -- that this is better for the families, the stores, the economy, even housing prices. Not to mention healthy, active, curious kids.