by Dr Harshada Rajadhyaksha, B.P.T,PG.D.R. (Rehabilitation Medicine), PGD (D&N); DIRECTOR, Prakruti Sports Science & Physiotherapy Clinic Pvt Ltd
In this Pulsating, Vibrant, Vivacious Mumbai lie several imprisoned childhoods.
Small apartments, smaller “compounds” filled with parked cars, small pavements filled with hawkers,
noisy roads with slow-moving traffic; even the several gardens that have metamorphosed in this city
in the last few years do not allow children to cycle, play ball, or run freely. Where do these little ones
do what they are biologically programmed to do, i.e. “MOVE”?
Arguably there is more scope for organised play and learning for children today than there was a few
decades ago. More “classes” to teach them everything from sports, to creativity, to “gym” and dance
moves! But none of these can come close to what free play and unrestricted outdoor activity can
Children engage their whole body spontaneously in unstructured play when they are outdoors.
Running, skipping, squatting, jumping and leaping as only children can, this free play builds immense
self-confidence, maintains their flexibility and natural posture, improves balance and co-ordination,
strengthens all muscles, and builds a strong foundation for lifelong physical and mental health.
Furthermore, cycling, skipping rope, skating, etc. teaches valuable new skills, also perfecting balance.
When parents accompany their children and engage in outdoor activities with them, the benefits are
multiplied: Besides the obvious family bonding and trust-building, there is also the opportunity to
adopt new behaviours and lifestyle changes for the parents!
When several children and their families come together to engage in outdoor play, there is scope to
bring about social change! Cultural and social tolerance, support of the differently abled, assisting
senior citizens, and partaking group fitness activities can build a healthier society.
On Sundays, from 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM on a small stretch of 6.5 Km, children and their families are
coming out to celebrate the outdoors. On the open road sans traffic, you can see them cycling,
skating, dancing, walking, playing ball, and even making beautiful chalk art on the roads.
The atmosphere is festive, and lively. So many families come out to enjoy the freedom of being on
the roads with their children without having to worry about their safety, that there is no room for
anyone seeking serious fitness activities. But this otherwise busy street in Mumbai is presenting to its’
citizens one of their fundamental rights, “The Freedom of Movement”.
Quietly, without anyone noticing, the project of “Equal Streets” is bringing wellness into the