Background Research

Throughout the preparation term our team conducted research on community outreach, the importance of natural park design, and the impact parks have on early childhood development. Throughout our time in Maitland Garden Village it was encouraging to see that the community’s input complemented our extensive research to produce an innovative design for Perseverance Park. The first aspect in creating the park design was engaging the community in the project as a shared action learning process. Our research stated that individuals learn best through engaging in real life experiences, focusing on the skills that they already have. It is necessary to work with a community as a primary source of information and resources, encouraging leadership development and participation. Ensuring open communication and embracing diversity amongst individuals provides input that comes from multiple points of view. Working together to develop a system to ensure implementation, analyze progress, and track and share information allows the community to build upon their experiences throughout the project, in our case, creating a final design for the park (“Involving communities in strategic planning”).


background research

There were a number of considerations while incorporating community input and integrating research into the final park design. For example, our research emphasized that a more natural, landscape based approach is the ideal design tactic. This is in favor over the more traditional based playgrounds which can be described as “consisting of a kit of fixed play equipment, with a fence surrounding it and a carpet of rubber surface—a Kit, Fence, Carpet (KFC) playground” (Woolley, 2007, 2008). This notion complimented the community’s desire for plants to provide shade, a low barrier to ensure safety without producing a closed-off environment, and their request for non-traditional play equipment.


Safety is another important factor to incorporate in park design. Our research focused on general hazards and equipment deterioration, including ensuring that equipment footings are not exposed, cracked, or loose, the steel is not rusted, cracked, bended, warped or broken, and that the equipment paint is not damaged peeled or cracked. Specific equipment hazards include ensuring that all slide supports are intact and secure and that there are no potential clothing entanglement such as protruding bolts. Surrounding Area and Protective Surfacing around equipment included protective surfacing material that is adequately deep and bordering fences in good condition and has not come loose or does not have holes (“Public playground safety handbook”, 2008). The community raised specific concerns to Perseverance Park that had not come up in our research. For example, drug and alcohol abuse was not uncommon to see taking place in the park. In addition, the existing barrier did not prevent children from running into the street.


Our preparation research also focused on the role parks place in early childhood development.  Past research has stressed that it is crucial to create a flexible environment in a park space. This encourages experimentation and exploration that leads to the development of flexibility and creativity in problem solving amongst children. A variety of play activity results in children building confidence in risk taking, varies their day-to-day reactions to conflicts, and enhances self-awareness and self-acceptance (Brown & Ebrary Academic Complete, 2002). A flexible, open area encourages children to explore and experiment in different activities, providing opportunities for communication, negotiation, and friendship formation (Tovey, 2007). The community expressed interest in including a sandbox, open space, and unstructured play equipment into the final park design. These flexible environments will be essential in promoting early childhood development in Perseverance Park.


Read our Introduction explaining the need for parks.

Learn more about how parks directly affect Early Childhood Development

Explore our research on Park Design and the Design Process

Find out how we planned to promote Community Involvement