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Grounds for movement: Green school grounds as sites for promoting physical activity

Summary


Green school grounds improve quantity and quality of elementary school children’s physical activity

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in greening school grounds to diversify children’s play experiences, such as through the planting of trees, building of ponds, and development of vegetable gardens. Dyment and Bell investigated how green school grounds affect the physical activity of elementary school children by sending questionnaires to a diversity of Canadian schools that had greened their school grounds. Questionnaires were completed by 105 individuals from 59 schools who had been involved in their school’s greening project. In analyzing the study data, Dyment and Bell found that green areas were an important place for physical activity: respondents reported that 66% of students use green areas for active play. Interestingly, the researchers found that green areas tended to support more moderate and light activity as opposed to the more vigorous activity that generally takes place in traditional turf and asphalt areas. Dyment and Bell found that nearly 50% of the respondents reported that their school ground promotes more vigorous activity after greening, while about 70% reported more moderate and/or light physical activity taking place after greening. In addition, the researchers found that 90% of respondents reported that their school ground appeals to a wider variety of student interests after greening; 85% reported that their school ground now supports a wider variety of play activities; and 84% reported that since greening, their school ground encourages more exploration of the natural world. This study provides important insight into the benefits of green school grounds and their potentially significant role in complementing more traditional school ground areas and improving the quality and quality of elementary school children’s physical activity.

Citation

Dyment, J. E., Bell, A. C., (2008). Grounds for movement: Green school grounds as sites for promoting physical activity. Health Education Research, 23(6), 952-962.

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