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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 198–202 | Cite as

Splashpads, Swings, and Shade

Parents’ Preferences for Neighbourhood Parks
  • Patricia Tucker
  • Jason Gilliland
  • Jennifer D. Irwin
Article

Abstract

Background

Physical activity is a modifiable behaviour that can help curtail the increasing worldwide problem of childhood obesity. Appropriate recreational opportunities, including neighbourhood parks, are particularly important for promoting physical activity among children. Because children’s use of parks is mainly under the influence of their parents, understanding parents’ preferences is essential for creating the most inviting and usable park space to facilitate children’s physical activity.

Methods

Eighty-two intercept interviews were conducted with a heterogeneous sample of parents/guardians watching their children at neighbourhood parks in London, Ontario. Parents/guardians were asked questions about how often they frequent the park, whether it is the closest to their residence, and their likes/dislikes for the park. Strategies to ensure trustworthiness of the data were employed.

Results

Interviewees attended their park of choice between 1–7 times per week with the average being 2.5 times per week. Only 49% of respondents frequented the park closest to their starting destination (home or daycare facility), and the majority travelled more than 4 km to get to the park. For those who chose to travel a significant distance to attend their park of choice, park location was not as important as the amenities they desired. Parents’ main reasons for choosing parks were: water attractions, shade, swings, and cleanliness.

Conclusions

The current study provides useful insights on park use with potentially important implications for increasing physical activity among children. Incorporating parents’ preferences into strategies for creating or modifying city parks will help to ensure that limited public resources are being targeted most effectively in support of children’s physical activity.

MeSH terms

Motor activity recreation environmental child 

Résumé

Contexte

L’activité physique est un comportement modifiable qui pourrait mettre un frein au problème mondial de l’obésité de l’enfance. Des installations de loisirs appropriées, y compris des parcs de quartier, sont particulièrement importantes pour promouvoir l’activité physique chez les enfants. Comme ce sont surtout les parents qui déterminent la fréquentation des parcs par les enfants, il est essentiel de comprendre les préférences des parents afin de créer les parcs les plus invitants et les plus accueillants possibles et faciliter ainsi l’activité physique des enfants.

Méthode

Quatre-vingt deux entretiens sur place ont été menés auprès d’un échantillon hétérogène de parents et autres responsables qui surveillaient leurs enfants dans des parcs de quartier de London, en Ontario. Les parents et responsables ont répondu à des questions sur la fréquence de leurs visites au parc, la distance entre le parc et leur domicile, et ce qu’ils aimaient ou n’aiment pas dans le parc. Nous avons ensuite appliqué des méthodes de vérification de la fiabilité des données.

Résultats

Les répondants fréquentaient leur parc préféré entre 1 et 7 fois par semaine; la moyenne était de 2,5 fois par semaine. Seulement 49 % des répondants fréquentaient le parc le plus proche de leur point de départ (domicile ou garderie); la majorité faisaient un trajet de plus de 4 km pour s’y rendre. Pour ceux et celles qui faisaient un long trajet, l’emplacement du parc était moins important que la présence de certains équipements. Les principales raisons pour lesquelles les parents choisissaient certains parcs étaient: les jeux d’eau, l’ombre, les balançoires et la propreté des lieux.

Conclusion

Cette étude donne des aperçus précieux sur la fréquentation des parcs qui pourraient avoir des conséquences importantes pour l’augmentation de l’activité physique des enfants. En tenant compte des préférences des parents dans les stratégies de création ou de réaménagement des parcs locaux, on peut affecter les ressources publiques limitées en maximisant leur impact sur l’activité physique des enfants.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Tucker
    • 1
  • Jason Gilliland
    • 2
  • Jennifer D. Irwin
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of Western OntarioCanada

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