Parental Preference for Park Attributes Related to Children’s Use of Parks in Low-Income, Racial/Ethnic Diverse Neighborhoods

Abstract

Public parks offer free and easy access to spaces for outdoor recreation, which is essential for children’s outdoor play and physical activity in low-income communities. Because parks and playgrounds contribute to children’s physical, social, and emotional development, it is critical to understand what makes them attractive and welcoming for families with young children. Parents can be a key determinant to children visiting parks, with their preferences influencing whether or not families visit parks in their neighborhoods. Our study examined attributes associated with parental preferences for parks in low-income diverse communities in New York City, New York, and Raleigh- Durham, North Carolina, USA. Parents’ responses were grouped into 10 categories using content analysis, with four key preference themes identified: physical attributes, experiences, social environment, and amenities. Physical attributes (i.e., playgrounds, sports fields, green spaces) were most desired among all groups. A significant difference across race/ethnic groups was found in New York but not in Raleigh-Durham. In New York, Latino parents had a strong preference for experience attributes (i.e. safety, safe facilities, cleanliness), which differed from other groups. Examining only Latino parents across both cities, we found no significant difference in preferences between the two cities. Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to encourage park use, our finding suggests facilities and park safety are modifiable ways local government agencies could design and maintain parks that would be preferred by parents for their children. Future research should examine how neighborhood context may influence parent preferences related to parks.

Publication
Journal of Healthy Eating and Active Living
Scott Ogletree
Scott Ogletree
Postdoctoral Research Scholar