48 young thinkers showcase creativity - GulfToday

48 young thinkers showcase creativity


Most children included features like more crossings, sidewalks, waterscape, greater green and shaded spaces.

Forty-eight young creative thinkers showcased their virtual Minecraft models recently to a packed audience of engineers, urban planners, and technicians, pushing for smarter and more child-friendly public spaces in Sharjah.

The models that were unveiled at a special event in the emirate were the brainchild of none other than 9 to 11-year-old children who had participated in the joint initiative by the Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC) and Sharjah Baby Friendly Office (SBFO) in collaboration with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat).

Over the course of a two-day workshop, children learned and applied basic urban planning techniques like design principles, design thinking and architecture through the creative resources of Minecraft, as a tool to build a landscape, revealing their vision of a 21st century city.

Children were divided into 16 teams of 3 to work on their Minecraft models, and presented their models last Thursday, with over 56 innovative ideas emerging from their list of priorities of what to include in the public space.

Most children included features like more crossings, sidewalks, waterscape, greater green and shaded spaces and protected play areas. These priorities revealed their relationship with the public space, with one of the chief concerns being the hot UAE weather. Additionally, innovative concepts for public facilities and spaces included adding special signboards for children who are differently-abled to create a unified community, and deploying greater safety zones with adults in-charge, to enhance a sense of security in children.

A few other playful ideas envisioned the public space to have an animal farm, a maze and even roller coaster rides.

Engineer Khaled Al Ali, Secretary General of SUPC said, “What we have seen in the last 4 four days were wonderful and inspiring results shared with us by young boys and girls allowing us to consider new ideas, facilities and features that form as key components in developing our local community.”

He also added, “This initiative marks an important milestone in our achievements that reflect on our collaborative efforts with the Sharjah Baby Friendly Office, bringing us closer to our 2019-2021 goals for the Sharjah Child Friendly-City project and bringing us closer to sustaining a city that continues to be a safe haven for all children and families.”

Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SBFO said, “It gives me immense pleasure to witness the incredible achievements of children, who crafted the present and future of their city, through one of their favourite games, Minecraft.”

She added, “These achievements reflect children and youth’s contributions to enhance the reality of services and facilities provided to them. And our role at the Sharjah Baby Friendly Office is to ensure that children are given these opportunities to achieve their dreams and aspirations, and to have a say in changing not only the future, but their present reality as well.”

At the conclusion of the session, all students were awarded participation certificates. Representatives from Sharjah Baby Friendly Office, International School for Creative Science, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, Knowledge and Human Development Authority and UN Habitat were awarded mementos of appreciation.

SBFO aims to protect and elevate the status and wellbeing of children of all ages in Sharjah. It creates relevant strategies and plans and implements them in cooperation with relevant institutions and government authorities. The office is currently tasked with overseeing the continuation and implementation of the Sharjah Baby-Friendly Emirate Project (targeting age group 0-2), and the Sharjah Child Friendly City Project (targeting age group 0-18).

Founded in 2006, the Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC) was formalised in 2014, under the Amiri Decree No. 5 issued by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah, within the framework of the efforts being made to keep pace with the overall development in the Emirate of Sharjah. Chairing the council is Sheikh Khalid Bin Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, and comprises board members who consist of government directors and authorities, including the Department of Planning and Survey, the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) and the Roads and Transport Authority.

The board is composed of a technical advisory committee comprising experts from the Directorate of Housing, Sharjah Economic Development Department, Sharjah Department of Statistics and Community Development, Environment and Protected Areas Authority, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority and representatives of the private sector.