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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Parent perspectives of the neighbourhood outdoor play spaces for their young child Phillips, Rachel


Participation in outdoor play is important for healthy development during the early years, as evidenced by numerous research studies linking participation in outdoor play with positive benefits for children. Previous research has found links between parent perceptions of their neighbourhood and children’s participation in outdoor play, suggesting the importance of considering how parents view outdoor play spaces. The purpose of this study was to explore and better understand the perspectives of parents regarding the outdoor play spaces in their neighbourhood for their young child. An urban neighbourhood within the City of Vancouver was selected as the location for this study, and 7 parents (6 female, 1 male) of children ages 2 to 5 years old living within the selected neighbourhood participated in the study. The qualitative research methodology photovoice was used to empower participants to share their knowledge and experiences of their community through photographing their community and participating in focus group discussions. Data was collected in the form of participant photographs and transcriptions of focus groups and interviews. Using thematic analysis, the themes that represent the perspectives of this group of parents were identified. The findings revealed two categories of outdoor play spaces, Designed Outdoor Play Spaces and Outdoor Play Spaces of Opportunity. Parents perceived that anywhere outdoors had the potential to be an outdoor play space if it afforded opportunities for play. Outdoor play spaces were used in a variety of ways by parents and their children for Play, Social Connections, and Outdoor Space. Parents also described Modifying Spaces with the goal of Enhancing Spaces or Reducing Concerns. Parents discussed issues of quality related to the outdoor play spaces in their neighborhood, identifying Supporting Factors, Limiting Factors, and Supporting and Limiting Factors that influenced their perceptions of quality and their desire to use a space. The findings of this study suggest the value of considering parent perspectives and indicate important considerations for the design of neighbourhood outdoor play spaces that meet the needs of families and support children’s outdoor play.

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