Participatory Schoolyard Design for Health and Well-Being: Policies that Support Play in Urban Green Spaces

Living reference work entry
Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP, volume 12)


Informal play in nature is fundamental to children’s health and well-being, providing physical, social, and psychological benefits. Yet children in urban environments frequently lack access to natural spaces for free play. Participatory planning similarly is important across many domains in contributing to children’s well-being. This chapter reviews the benefits and threats to children’s informal play in nature in cities today. It then examines the role of green schoolyards as one means of providing opportunities for such play. Finally, it explores a case study of a participatory planning and design process to expand nature play opportunities in a schoolyard and adjacent park in Boulder, Colorado, USA. Interviews with professionals involved in the project are used to identify themes, programs, and policies at municipal, state, and international levels that promote children’s informal play in urban green spaces.


Green schoolyards Parks Children Informal play Nature Participatory planning Health Well-being Policies Child-friendly cities 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program in Environmental DesignUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Urban Studies and PlanningCalifornia State University, NorthridgeLos AngelesUSA

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