Public parks offer free and easy to access 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. Past studies have posited there are significant differences across racial/ethnic populations in preferred park characteristics, but few have investigated specific park attributes parents from different racial and ethnic groups desire for their children. This 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 Latino parents in both cities we found no significant difference between 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.
Parents’ responses were grouped into 10 categories using content analysis, with four key preference themes identified. A significant difference across race/ethnic groups was found in New York but not in Raleigh-Durham. Examining Latino parents in both cities we found no significant difference between cities. Physical attributes (i.e., playgrounds, sports fields, green spaces) were most desired among all groups. In New York, Latino parents had a strong preference for Experience attributes (i.e. safety, safe facilities, cleanliness) which differed from other groups. Future research should examine how neighborhood context may influence parent preferences related to parks and children’s physical activity.
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