Exploring children’s seasonal play to promote active lifestyles in Auckland, New Zealand

Christina R. Ergler, Robin Kearns & Karen Witten

Go to article

Ergler, C. R. , Kearns, R. & Witten, K. (1). Exploring children’s seasonal play to promote active lifestyles in Auckland, New Zealand. Health & Place, 41, 67–77. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2016.07.001

Obesity , Play , Qualitative , Seasonality , Urbanintensification

Studies of seasonal barriers for outdoor activities seldom view families’ play practices as grounded in the everyday experience of the natural elements. This paper brings 20 families’ mundane outdoor play ex- periences in Auckland's temperate climate to the fore. Through drawings and interviews, families re- siding in both suburban detached houses and central city apartments revealed locally constituted beliefs about appropriate play spaces (e.g. garden, park). While the majority of participants retreated to indoor activities during winter, some children and their parents viewed the outdoors as the only opportunity for ‘real fun’. We advocate the importance of a better understanding of children's seasonal outdoor play. In particular, we argue that in order to promote year-round healthy levels of outdoor activities it is ne- cessary to understand variations in societal, neighbourhood and family values attributed to outdoor activities. Further, to develop a more nuanced understanding of the locational complexities of outdoor play it is important to understand the meanings of, and practices associated with, seasonal and weather conditions in different international locations.

Main finding
The outdoor play practices of children are shaped by seasonality and weather conditions. The differences between city center and suburb In two areas plays a role of seasonality in perceptions of outdoor play in summer and winter. City center children play more often indoors all-year-round and suburban children play outdoors but mostly during summer time. Playgrounds with parks were most popular, with suburban children having more access to those and city center children having to travel there which reduces the social cohesion in the city center area.

Description of method used in the article
11 suburban and 9 city center families were included in the study. Children performed drawing exercises and parents were involved in semi-structured interviews. Both took place in summer and winter.

Policy implications

Organising categories