Considering the Natural Environment in the Creation of Child-Friendly Cities: Implications for Children’s Subjective Well-Being

  • Sabirah Adams
  • Shazly Savahl
  • Maria Florence
  • Kyle Jackson


A critical aspect in the creation of child-friendly cities (CFC’s) is the consideration of the natural environment. Premised on a child participatory perspective, the current study explored children’s constructions and the meanings they attached to natural spaces and the impact on their subjective well-being. A qualitative methodological framework was employed using four focus group interviews with 32 children between the ages of 13 and 14 years. The study was conducted in a low socio-economic status community on the Cape Flats in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Within the thematic domain of CFC’s three key themes emerged from the data, namely Child and Environmentally friendly neighbourhoods, Environmentally friendly spaces and places for children, and Environmental awareness in the school curriculum. It was found that children consider nature as crucial in the creation of a CFC. Further, the participants revealed that their community is not child friendly, and suggested the need for the participation of children on matters which affect their lives. With natural spaces specified as children’s favourite places in this study, and the manifest advantages of children’s engagement therein, it is crucial to harness children’s access to safe natural spaces in their communities.


child-friendly cities nature children’s subjective well-being thematic analysis South Africa 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa

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