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The importance of greenspace for young people is set to be highlighted in the annual Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) Forum.

‘Children, Young People + Greenspace = A Healthy Equation’ will be held at Glasgow Caledonian University on Thursday 14 June and will feature world-renowned experts including the multi-award-winning landscape architect, Adam White and architect Hanna Johansson, who has been instrumental in creating the vision to transform Billund into Denmark’s Capital of Children.

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The event, timed to celebrates 2018’s Year of Young People, will explore many of the concepts being promoted through the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities and Communities initiative, the worldwide programme that puts the needs and rights of children and young people at the heart of decision-making.

The initiative is about valuing all children, protecting the most vulnerable and allowing children to flourish so they can engage actively in their communities.

Keith Geddes, Chair of CSGN, said: “Fundamentally, we all recognise the importance of greenspace and outdoor activities for healthy, active children and young people. From the importance of child-friendly urban design and access to the natural environment through to children’s health and mental well-being and positive educational outcomes.

“The Forum will look at international and local examples of good practice, and explore the challenges we face and the opportunities available to us in creating an environment in which children and young people can participate actively in the development and use of a high quality built and natural environment.”

Highlighting the importance of greenspace for young people will be Ettie Shattock, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Partnership Officer based at Young Scot, who is responsible for managing a successful co-design partnership between SNH and Scotland’s national youth information and citizenship charity.

SNH and Young Scot have been working in partnership since 2016 to engage young people in Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy and Route Map to 2020. Using a co-design approach, they established Scotland’s Youth Biodiversity Panel, ReRoute, which is made up of 15 young volunteers aged 13-24 from across the country with the aim of engaging more young people in Scotland’s amazing nature, landscapes and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.

Ryan McDonagh, ReRoute member, said: “ReRoute is excited to be part of CSGN's annual forum. It will be a great opportunity to highlight the importance of young people engaging with nature, and their involvement in creating and maintaining green spaces in Scotland. We look forward to sharing the learning from our project and hearing about other examples from near and far"

Adam White was part of the team that designed the regeneration of Cuningar Loop Woodland Park, a £5.7 million legacy project from the 2014 Commonwealth Games and realised by Forestry Commission Scotland, which saw the formerly derelict land transformed with an extensive path network, adventure play facility, bike skills area, Scotland’s first outdoor bouldering park, a woodland workout and outdoor classroom.

Adam was made a Fellow of the Landscape Institute in 2012 for the influential role he has played in promoting quality play space design across the UK. He is the current President Elect of the Landscape Institute.

Adam is passionate about engaging young people in the landscape profession and involving them in design process as a part of the delivery of projects.

He said: “A well designed play space should create a sense of place, unique to anywhere else and offer reasonable risk allowing children to explore their own imagination whilst reconnecting them with nature.

“Engagement with the end user is key to fostering ownership. At Davies White we engage with local schools and user groups through model making sessions and hands on build workshops. Our play projects sit somewhere between a traditional playground design and the play value of climbing trees. Forget metal equipment and multi-coloured rubber surfaces, we reject preconceived notions of a playground in favour of a more natural approach to play.

Our Cuningar Loop project shows how the entire landscape can offer play value and not just a corner of a park or garden. Think grassy mounds, playful planting, tunnels, boulders, beaches, bridges and, cycle tracks all complemented by robust timber play equipment.”

Hanna Johansson, an associate architect with Bjarke Ingels Grouphas, led on the development of the Billund City Vision, a 30-year plan to transform Billund into Denmark’s Capital of Children where the city’s urban experience will be informed by creativity, play and learning and will deliver a connected, walkable, diverse and biodiverse urban form.

She said: “With the project Billund City Vision we have had a unique opportunity to work together with both the local municipality and the LEGO Group in a shared ambition to set standards for holistic urban development for both children and grown-ups.

“Playing, learning and growing have been core values in the aim of realizing Billund as the Capital of Children. Substantial research both regarding physical environment, childhood and growing up as well as input from local stakeholders and residents, informed a visionary masterplan describing the urban development over the coming 30 years.”

As Europe’s largest greenspace initiative, CSGN is working to transform the central belt into a place where the environment adds value to the economy and where people’s lives are enriched by its quality.  Stretching from Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Dunbartonshire in the west, to Fife and Lothians in the east, it encompasses 19 local authorities across 10,000 sq km and has the potential to benefit 3.5million people, equating to 70 per cent of Scotland’s population.

For further information and to sign up to the Central Scotland Green Network Forum 2018 visit www.centralscotlandgreennetwork.org/forum