Public Speaking

We are a team of experienced public speakers who can provide a range of talks or informative entertainment on child friendly environments – from keynote speeches, Ted-style talks and stand-up comedy. Below are examples of previous speaking engagements. To book any of these or bespoke talks, get in touch.

Children’s Rights and Public Space

In this keynote presentation, Dr Jenny Wood reports the findings of her PhD research on Children’s Rights and the Scottish Planning system. This has been delivered at an International Child Rights Forum in South Korea, and as CPD for Charity PAS and the Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland. It can be tailored to suit academic and/or practice audiences. See the abstract below for further details:

Children are often excluded or marginalised in public space, but it is increasingly recognised that this denies them certain rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). In particular, a child’s right to be heard in matters that affect them (Article 12), and the right to play, rest, leisure and access to cultural life (Article 31). The UK ratified this convention in 1991, but it has not yet fed through into the range of policy measure that affect children, and amongst these is the town planning system in Scotland. This talk examines what children’s rights mean for the town planning system, and how it can move towards a child-rights informed practice, focusing on middle childhood (ages 6-12). The research involved a live project around a local park restoration with children aged 9-12; interviews with professionals; and critical discourse analysis of policy. It finds that children in middle childhood are capable of participating in planning in a number of ways, but that planning research and practise are not well-placed, or supported at present, to do so. By bringing insights from other disciplines, empirical work, and analysis, the talk ends by suggesting ways to make the participation of children in place and process more achievable in Scotland. It also reflects on the growing movement for child friendly cities.

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Dr Jenny Wood delivering Keynote presentation ‘Children’s Rights and Public Space’ at the International Center for Child Rights International Forum, Seoul, South Korea

How to get Kids to Love Learning

In this TEDx Talk Dr Matluba Khan sets out the importance of teaching and learning in outdoor environments and discusses how the design of primary school grounds can facilitate this. The talk draws on her experiences of co-design and development of school grounds with children, teachers and the community in the context of Bangladesh and her research with children. A well-designed outdoor learning environment can motivate teachers, make learning fun and inspire children to love learning. The talk has been delivered at TEDxPortobello 2017, on the theme ‘restart the machine’ and can be tailored for teachers, designers and policy makers. See the abstract below for more information:

More than 59 million children around the world do not complete their primary education. In Bangladesh 1 in 10 children are out of school. There are many causes behind children’s dropping out of school, however the condition of physical environments has rarely been emphasised in policy and practice. A growing body of research has linked spending times in the outdoors with attention restoration, formal and informal learning, improved physical activity etc. Research studies led by Dr Matluba Khan indicate that outdoor environments, if designed as a place for teaching and learning, can motivate children and make their learning fun. Learning that is static and textbook-centric in poorly designed, insufficiently lit and ill ventilated indoor environments in Government primary schools of Bangladesh can become dynamic, creative and hands-on in the outdoors. The key for creating a learning environment where children will love to learn is engaging children and teachers; making a place’s ‘affordances’ the principal design consideration; hiring local masons and sourcing resources locally; and last (but not the least!) making the design ‘living’. 


Keep the Kids Out!

Keep the Kids Out! is an informative but entertaining take on children’s increasing exclusion from urban environments. Performed twice at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it formed part of the Beltane Network’s Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas. The format is participatory with plenty of chance for questions from the audience. We recommend for evening CPD events or breakout sessions at conferences. See the blurb below.

They terrorise our streets, nuisance our neighbourhoods or, worst of all, never leave the house. Are children an environmental threat? Or should we be adapting our environments to suit them? Do urban planners need to discover their inner child? Join us to re-evaluate our urban landscapes and what they say about children. With your contribution, can we work out how to keep the kids out(side)?

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Dr Jenny Wood and Anna Gaffney (with a cardboard Justin Bieber) performing Keep the Kids Out! At Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016.

Town Planning Comedy: BANANA NIMBYISM

Town planning is rarely associated with laughter, but in this 10 minute comedy routine, Dr Jenny Wood takes on the Scottish planning system, children’s rights and public involvement in our places. Find out how a planners sees the world and why children’s involvement is more important now than ever. This routine has been performed at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of the Beltane Public Engagement Network’s Bright Club. Jenny has also performed this as after-dinner entertainment at two academic conferences.