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‘I feel like I’m getting sad there’: early childhood outdoor playspaces as places for children’s wellbeing
journal contributionposted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by Deb Moore, Anne-Marie MorrisseyAnne-Marie Morrissey, Natalie RobertsonNatalie Robertson
Children’s physical activity has long been the primary focus of outdoor playspace design. Other influences are adult views on risk and economic considerations. However, a growing body of research shows young children’s perspectives on their outdoor playspaces need to be accounted for. Positioned within a mixed-method comparative case study, this paper showcases the stories that young children have told during participatory research about two different early childhood outdoor playspaces. Recurrent wellbeing themes emerged highlighting children’s agency, place attachment and the need to hide. Analysis of the children’s stories indicated that a spacious open-ended environment, with significant natural features, selected built equipment and secluded spaces, fostered children’s experiences of wellbeing through play. Overcrowding, and a preponderance of artificial surfaces and materials appeared to work against children’s wellbeing. The findings indicate that good outdoor playspace design acknowledges the importance of place in children’s lives, and involves them in co-construction of their playspaces.