Play in outdoor environments can makes a positive contribution to the wellbeing of all – from children to those in later life. This chapter will establish the benefits of play in public urban environments such as streets and open spaces. It will show how play can increase levels of physical fitness across different age and social groups, improve and sustain people’s quality of life and independence well into older age. To date, this field of study has been dominated by a piecemeal, as well as a disciplinary, age and gender specific approach. We seek to provide a more holistic appreciation focusing on the characteristics of urban environments which are conducive to outdoor play and the many health and well-being benefits that result. In this context, play is something possible throughout the course of a person’s life. It is the expression of playfulness, a frame of mind; a playful disposition (Lester and Russell 2008, 2010) that can be expressed in varying ways rather than particular physical activities or games associated with different life stages.
This chapter describes the current situation in the England in terms of examines relevant health issues, policy and practice before exploring the nature of play and leisure in more depth. To illustrate the interaction of the environment with play throughout the course of a person’s life, Two case studies study of play by groups of people of different ages in Bristol are is then examined, before final conclusions for policy and practice are drawn.
Mahdjoubi, L., & Spencer, B. (2015). Healthy play of all ages in public open spaces. In H. Barton., S. Thompson, S. Burgess, & M. Grant. (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Planning for Health and Well-Being, 136-149. Routledge