Children’s Recreational Engagement with Nature in South Africa: Implications for Children’s Subjective Well-Being

  • Sabirah Adams
  • Shazly Savahl
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


This chapter focuses on merging positive psychology and environmental psychology (sustainability) by exploring children’s recreational engagement with nature and the influence on their subjective well-being. The chapter details two studies conducted in the Western Cape of South Africa, in one rural and two urban communities using participatory methodologies with children. Study 1 aimed to explore how children discursively construct natural spaces and the influence on their subjective well-being using focus group interviews, while Study 2 aimed to explore children’s representations and perceptions of natural spaces using photovoice and community mapping. Four overarching findings identified from both Study 1 and 2 were the following: Children’s mobility in natural spaces: The role of socio-economic status (SES) and threats to children’s safety; Nature as children’s space and the influences on their subjective well-being; Children’s rights and access to safe natural spaces; and Researching children’s environmental views and their subjective well-being in South Africa. Although a fostering and healthy environment for children is a precondition for their well-being, this right is unfulfilled for the majority of children in the South African context. The ability to develop in a safe environment which enhances children’s well-being is unjustly distributed amongst the rich and poor, alluding to the importance of considerations of the place dimension of subjective well-being (SWB). The environmental subjective well-being of children is complemented by considerations of the environmental child rights, which foremost advocates for safer recreational environments for all children.


Children Recreation Nature Subjective well-being 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabirah Adams
    • 1
  • Shazly Savahl
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of the Western CapeCape TownSouth Africa

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