University of Tasmania

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'All they need is grass': developing physical environments to support children’s physical activity

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 21:39 authored by Karen Martin

Play spaces for children are not all created equal, and when exploring the environments provided for children in local communities it is quickly evident that there is a broad spectrum available; from the good; the bad; to the ugly!

This presentation presents results from The ACTIVE Schools Project1, a Western Australian study which gathered children’s play perspectives using surveys as well as objectively measured physical activity data using accelerometers in over 400 grade six children at 27 schools in Perth, Western Australia.

Characteristics of the school physical environment identified by children as being important for supporting their play included:

  • having sport apparatus (e.g. football goals, basketball hoops)
  • good amount of space and grass
  • access to natural play areas
  • good variation in playground equipment (climbers, monkey bars, etc)
  • more markings on hard courts and walls
  • good school design

Multilevel modelling using the accelerometry and objectively measured school environment data indicate that grass and sporting apparatus were important supports for children’s physical activity.

Counter to these findings, however, are worldwide examples of removing or reducing grass and playground equipment in response to concerns about cost, risk, safety and environmental sustainability. This presentation will provide some strategies for optimising physical environments for children’s physical activity while taking into account such broader contextual issues.


Publication title

Proceedings of the 2011 International Conference on Research into Inclusive Outdoor Environments for All




1 piece- abstract


Faculty of Education


Open space

Place of publication


Event title

Research into Inclusive Outdoor Environments for All

Event Venue

University of Edinburgh

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Early childhood education; Expanding knowledge in education

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