Effects of Activating Schoolyards: Children’s Perceptions of their Renewed Schoolyards

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PURPOSE: There is no consistent evidence to guide schoolyard interventions promoting physical activity. The Activating Schoolyards Study is a quasi-experimental schoolyard intervention study aimed at investigating the impact of renewed schoolyards on 10-15-year-old children’s recess physical activity. The effect of the interventions on physical activity was assessed objectively and subjectively. Previous studies have used objective measurements to evaluate schoolyard interventions, yet there is a need to evaluate these interventions by employing a combination of subjective and objective measures to get a broader knowledge base. Drawing on our qualitative dataset, the aim of this study was to investigate children’s perceptions of the effect of their renewed schoolyards.
METHODS: Drawing on a phenomenological approach data was collected through ten focus groups at five Danish intervention schools. Two gender-segregated focus groups at each school, including in total 57 fourth to eight graders (28 girls), were conducted. The focus groups included go-along interviews in the schoolyard, and a post-it note activity. The data was collected between April and June 2016 (six months after intervention). The children’s recess behavior was observed before and after intervention (510 minutes of recess were observed). A content analysis of the post-it notes was used and verified by a thematic analysis of transcripts from the go-along interviews.
FINDINGS: Most children perceived the intervention as positive for their schoolyard as it provided more variation in play facilities and improved the appearance. However, at most schools the children experienced that the renewed schoolyards were dominated by the youngest children (under 10-year-old). To minimise crowding some schools had formally restricted access to the renovated areas for older children and allowed them to leave the school area during recess. Furthermore, most of the children felt that the renewed schoolyard areas were far from their classrooms.

CONCLUSIONS: Renewing the schoolyard is not enough to stimulate physical activity. Schools have to support the older children’s recess physical activity on an organisational level by encourage them to use the schoolyard and renewing schoolyard areas close to their classrooms. This follow-up study of children’s perception of the renewed schoolyards can aid development of future schoolyard interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date7. Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 7. Jun 2017
Event16th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity - Victoria Conference Centre, Victoria, Canada
Duration: 7. Jun 201710. Jun 2017
Conference number: 16


Conference16th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
LocationVictoria Conference Centre
Internet address


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