Environmental Qualities That Enhance Outdoor Play in Community Playgrounds from the Perspective of Children with and without Disabilities: A Scoping Review
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Morgenthaler T, Schulze C, Pentland D, Lynch H. Environmental Qualities That Enhance Outdoor Play in Community Playgrounds from the Perspective of Children with and without Disabilities: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2023; 20(3):1763. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20031763
For children, playgrounds are important environments. However, children’s perspectives are often not acknowledged in playground provision, design, and evaluation. This scoping review aimed to summarize the users’ (children with and without disabilities) perspectives on environmental qualities that enhance their play experiences in community playgrounds. Published peer-reviewed studies were systematically searched in seven databases from disciplines of architecture, education, health, and social sciences; 2905 studies were screened, and the last search was performed in January 2023. Included studies (N = 51) were charted, and a qualitative content analysis was conducted. Five themes were formed which provided insights into how both physical and social environmental qualities combined provide for maximum play value in outdoor play experiences. These multifaceted play experiences included the desire for fun, challenge, and intense play, the wish to self-direct play, and the value of playing alone as well as with known people and animals. Fundamentally, children wished for playgrounds to be children’s places that were welcoming, safe, and aesthetically pleasing. The results are discussed in respect to social, physical, and atmospheric environmental affordances and the adult’s role in playground provision. This scoping review represents the valuable insights of children regardless of abilities and informs about how to maximise outdoor play experiences for all children.