Play Worth Remembering


The Play Worth Remembering study asked adults to share memories about their favourite play spaces when they were kids. Today, research on children’s outdoor play environments has found that safety is the key driver of play space design and the presence of natural elements has decreased. Our aim was to engage the public in dialogue about what children’s play was like when they were growing up to help reflect on how it has changed for children today.

Our research used an online survey to better understand the types of landscapes that people considered memorable for play. Participants were asked to recall their favourite play spaces, the elements contained in these spaces, the benefits received by playing in these spaces, and whether they believed they were safe at these play spaces. We found that 69 percent of participants believed today’s playgrounds are too safe and only 14 percent recalled that spaces designed specifically for play were their favourite play spaces as children.

This research suggests that there is public support for rethinking the design of children’s outdoor play spaces to be more challenging, contain natural elements, and provide access to unstructured play areas.

Funded By

Generously supported by the UBC Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies



Brunelle, S., Herrington, S., Coghlan, R., & Brussoni, M. (2016). Play worth remembering: Are playgrounds too safe? Children, Youth and Environments, 26(1).

CBC News – Playgrounds need to be more challenging [link]

UBC Peter Wall – Are playgrounds engineered for safety doing more harm than good? [link]