There is a very important article in The Atlantic titled, "Why Do Some Poor Kids Thrive?" It is a fascinating read about coming out on the winning side of a childhood of poverty.
A big factor in some kids "getting out" of a life/neighborhood/world of poverty is what the authors call an "identity project", or, something that the child feels so passionate about it becomes part of their identity. It pulls them forward. This leads me to think about where kids first discover passions - interests as diverse as individual brains themselves - in such limited environments.
Instead of cutting play opportunities, recess, the arts, music, theatre, free after-school programs that are the very places passions and dreams are found, perhaps we should do more of them. Instead of creating playspaces so devoid of interest, risk, engagement, perhaps we should design better ones - more adventurous, challenging and "open ended" ones. Instead of cities based solely on retail and commerce, perhaps we should design child-friendly cities with sidewalks and cafes and parks and playable art that engage and inspire.
Shouldn't we create cities so full of passion that all of our children discover themselves everywhere? Cities should have magic in them. Cities should embrace and lift up children. Instead of being overwhelmed by the problems, do what you can TODAY in your world to make your city more playful and inspiring to our youngest minds. Yes. That means you.