What tweenagers need to know to become URBAN SMART

Has the pandemic delayed you from exploring your local area by yourself? Would you like to travel around with an increased level of confidence? Do you want to become street smart and independent? Here is the advice that you should follow to become URBAN SMART!

Now the pandemic restrictions are lifting, you’re probably experiencing more independence and freedom than ever before. You might be allowed to walk home from a friend’s house or sports activity by yourself. Trips to the shopping mall with a group of friends might be a regular weekend activity. You might even be using public transport to get to and from school without an adult tagging along. 

Whatever your circumstances, it’s really exciting that you’re being trusted to do more by yourself but you’ll also be exposing yourself to more risks. Don’t worry – this is just part of growing up!

The essential info to become URBAN SMART

There’s so much advice out there and everyone will have an opinion about what you should be allowed to do and how you should do it.  Take it at your own pace, build up your knowledge, increase your confidence and learn by your mistakes. Here are some of the best hints and tips to keep you URBAN SMART.

1) Staying safe on the street

  • Plan your route in advance and stick to roads that are well-lit and relatively busy. Walk towards the traffic if there are no pavements
  • Wear bright clothing to increase your visibility
  • When riding a bike, don’t forget to wear a cycle helmet and use bike lights – even in the morning!
  • After dark, do not take short cuts across parks and avoid alley ways
  • Be aware of your surroundings and don’t be distracted by your mobile phone or by wearing headphones
  • Use pedestrian crossings where possible and make eye contact with drivers when crossing in front of their vehicle
  • If you think you’re being followed, cross the road safely or go into a shop until you feel safe again.

2)Preventing personal theft

  1. Carry your rucksack properly across your back or wear your bag across your body
  2. Be wary of people looking over your shoulder when using an ATM and put your money away before walking off
  3. Be careful with your valuables and electronic equipment, for example, jewellery, mobile phones and laptops.
  4. Only take your wallet or purse out when you need to
  5. Never leave your bag unattended in a public place.

3) Protecting your mobile phone

  • The most common item stolen on the street is a mobile phone, so if you are not using it, keep it hidden away
  • Remember to charge your mobile phone and power bank before you leave the house
  • If you do need to use your mobile phone in public, make sure you keep an eye on what is happening around you
  • Be wary if someone asks you the time. They might try to snatch your mobile phone when you check it for the time.
  • Memorise a family member’s phone number in case you lose your phone or run out of battery. It’s happened to us all!

4) Using public transport

  • Plan your trip in advance and have a “Plan B” if things change. For example, you miss the first train or a bus replacement service is operating
  • Stand in a well-lit position at the bus stop or train station, near other people and stand well back from the edge of the platform
  • Buy your ticket in advance if you can. This might also save you money!
  • Try to sit near the driver of the bus or with other passengers on the train
  • Don’t be afraid to move seats if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

5) Other random stuff

  • Always check your change before leaving the shop cashier area
  • Don’t forget a torch on those dark evenings
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you will return
  • Be aware of who you can ask for help at any time. For example, call your parents to collect you early, speak to a shop security guard or call 999.
  • NEVER go swimming without an adult around to supervise
  • Don’t miss your curfew time and be late home. If you’re going to be late and it’s beyond your control, for example, a train cancellation or a sports match finishes late, call ahead to explain what’s happening. It’s a trust thing!

The world is a big and exciting place, full of friends you haven’t met yet – go and explore it!

The idea of going it alone might seem daunting, especially after reading the advice above, but it’s really not. We all need to start somewhere so get out there, even if you need an older relative to show you the way the first time. Grab every opportunity that comes your way, start planning those day trips, look after your friends and make loads of memories. You may feel a mix of nerves and excitement – this is only normal.

FINALLY, enjoy your newly discovered freedom, stay safe and most of all – have FUN!

If you’d like to “Boost your tween confidence in 6 weeks”, details of Caroline’s popular online course can be found here. Use the code tlcurban at checkout for £50 off.

Caroline Would is a RAF veteran and founder of AD ASTRA Coaching Mentoring Training, which “unlocks the confidence, happiness and potential of young people”.

She provides confidence-building 1:1 programmes, workshops and online training courses for schools and organisations in the UK and across Asia Pacific and her clients include Hollywood actors, TV presenters, senior corporate leaders, artists, graduates, stressed-out parents and young people aged 8 – 18.

Caroline also runs a free mentoring and confidence-building programme for year 11 girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, funded by local businesses and organisations.

Photo by Aedrian