Jakarta families discover 'hidden' parks

Families browse books at Tanjung Park in the Pasar Minggu area of South Jakarta on Saturday, as part of the Hidden Park event series.

JAKARTA - Dozens of families who live in the capital and usually do not have many options for weekend activities other than heading to malls, enjoyed a day at Tanjung Park in South Jakarta on Saturday as part of the Hidden Park event series.

Initiated by urban activists, Hidden Park is a campaign to promote and revive public parks in Jakarta, most of which are abandoned or neglected.

The Hidden Park series offers a number of activities in four different zones: a kid's zone, an urban farming corner, an outdoor library and a community zone.

Dozens of children enthusiastically participated in the activities and makeshift obstacles in the park while parents watched from afar.

One activity was for parents and children to work together on recycling, making clothes out of newspaper. Each family was given a limited amount of newspaper, a pair of scissors and tape to make simple, wearable clothing.

Some families made a simple shirt, while others made Harry Potter costumes.

Thirty-seven-year-old Dian Wirahadi and her 5-year-old daughter Aqila made a princess dress.

"I had so much fun with my daughter. I never knew I could have fun making dresses out of used newspaper," she said.

Dian added that she regretted the lack of decent parks in the city where her children could do similar activities.

"My children are still young. I have a 4-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. They need a place where they can run around and pick the flowers or just enjoy the fresh air in the morning," Dian said.

Dian, who lives nearby the park in Kalibata, South Jakarta, said she had no knowledge of the park before the Hidden Park event.

Another parent, 32-year-old Amruli, said he had come all the way from Pondok Bambu in East Jakarta for his children to enjoy the park.

Amruli and his 4-year-old son Ryu also participated in the activity.

"I really do not want my son to get used to having leisure time at the mall. I want to introduce him to nature when he's young," Amruli said.

Amruli added that he had attended the annual Hidden Park event for the last two years, and his son had always enjoyed visits to the park.

"I think the city administration should revitalize and maintain these parks. If the city took care of these parks, I'm sure many families would come and visit," he said.

According to the Jakarta Parks and Cemetery Agency, the city has nearly 1,000 public parks, but only 15 of them are fit for use.

"It's a little sad that Jakartans consider parks as alternative leisure destinations to malls. Parks should be the main destination for leisure and malls should be the alternative," Amruli said.

Meanwhile, University of Indonesia child psychologist Widiana, who helped coordinate events for children, said routine family visits to parks could strengthen relationships between family members. Widiana is also a member of the Eco Family project.

"When you're outdoors, you talk to each other and find various things to do. Not only can families have quality time, but children can also learn to respect nature, which is something that many people lack these days," Widiana told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

"After this event, I hope more parents will visit parks with their children instead of taking them to malls," Widiana said.