The Representation of Children’s Participation in Guidelines for Planning and Designing Public Playspaces: A Scoping Review with “Best Fit” Framework Synthesis

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The Representation of Children’s Participation in Guidelines for Planning and Designing Public Playspaces: A Scoping Review with “Best Fit” Framework Synthesis

Published May 2023

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Contributors

Author: Rianne Jansens, Maria Prellwitz, Alexandra Olofsson, Helen Lynch

Publisher: MDPI

Date: 2023

Geographic Coverage: Europe

Type of Resource: Academic Journal

Sector/setting: Academic

Vulnerable groups: Children

Developed with children and young people? No

Type of participation: Research

Availability: Open Access

Keywords: Children’s Rights; Design by Inclusion; Playgrounds; Policy; Policy Implementation

Introduction

For children, meaningful participation in community life includes being able to access places for play. Such community play spaces are potentially important for all children, including those with disabilities. Yet, children are rarely asked for their views on the design of playspaces, which can further contribute to exclusionary practices and undermine children’s rights to share their views on matters that affect them. In this scoping review, we aim to analyze guidelines and identify strategies for supporting children’s participation rights when planning public playspaces. Guidelines are practical tools used by local policymakers when creating community playspaces, which are important sites for children’s outdoor play. In total, forty-two guidelines were identified that addressed children’s participation rights, along with community involvement. Qualitative evidence synthesis with a “best fit” framework approach was used, informed by Lundy’s model of children’s participation. The findings revealed the importance of initial community involvement as a critical prerequisite. Strategies for children’s participation mostly concerned “space and voice” (for children of diverse abilities), with little attention paid to giving their views due weight. This evidence shows that there is a significant gap in knowledge surrounding policy development and implementation to support adults and children to cooperate equally in designing play spaces. Future directions for research in children’s participation require a focus on combined community–children participation approaches in public playspace design. Such work could strengthen and facilitate the role of adults as bearers of the duty to implement the rights of children. This review generated inclusive strategies in planning public playspaces, which could support local policymakers in this complex multi-layered process.