Let's splash: Children's active and passive water play in constructed and natural water features in urban green spaces in Sheffield

Melih Bozkurt*, Helen Woolley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Children's outdoor experiences have been explored for many years but little research has specifically highlighted the role of water in children's outdoor play. In this paper we present findings from an innovative study which focussed on children's play with water in three urban green spaces: two neighbourhood parks and one civic space. We define constructed and natural water features and explore children's play with water by gender, age and the affordances of the two types of water features. Experiences were gathered from children aged 8-11 in one primary school within 1.5 km of each urban green space with a total of 273 completed questionnaires. Additional data was gathered by observation and mapping of 3,399 children aged 0-18 across all three spaces. Children most frequently used the urban green space closest to where they live and play with water was the second and third most mentioned activity. Our findings reveal that younger children are more attracted to play with water than older children; females are more attracted to play with water than males, on two sites; children are more attracted to play with constructed than natural water features; and constructed water features which are not specifically designed for children's play can provide perceived affordances which children actualize. Constructed and natural water features in urban green spaces, provided affordances for children to play with water, whether those features were designed for this purpose or not. Play with water was both active and passive and providing opportunities for play with water in urban green spaces in new developments could help ameliorate the concern about childhood health and obesity which is of increasing concern in some parts of the world.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126696
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Volume52
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier GmbH

Keywords

  • Children
  • children's experiences
  • public water features
  • urban green space
  • water play

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