Play Worth Remembering (2016)

Project Type: Study

Research Institute: BC Children's Hospital Research Institute & the BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit

Funding: Peter Wall Institute of Advanced Studies

Role: Role: Study Design & Analysis/ Graphics/ Author

Team: Susan Herrington, Mariana Brussoni

Are playgrounds too safe? The Play Worth Remembering project involved an online survey that asked adults this very question. Research on children's outdoor play environments has found that safety has become the key driver of play space design, and that children's free play with natural elements has decreased with time. Adults reflecting on their own childhood frequently recall playing on their own and in natural settings. In order to better understand the types of landscapes that people considered memorable for play and if these landscapes offered beneficial challenges, we asked participants to recall their favorite outdoor play spaces and the elements contained in these spaces, to describe the benefits they received by playing in these places and to consider if they were safe play spaces. Of the 592 respondents, 69 percent found today's playgrounds too safe. When recollecting their own childhood, 59 percent of participants preferred natural play spaces, compared to 14 percent who preferred spaces designed specifically for play (like a typical, traditional playground). The results suggest public support for rethinking the design of children's outdoor play spaces to include more challenging play opportunities, natural elements, and access to unstructured play areas.

Read the study here!