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Tweens Love Playgrounds: How to Motivate Tween Physical Activity in Playgrounds

What is the Best Play Equipment to Encourage Tweens to be Active?

Research from KOMPAN Play Institute shows how you best motivate tweens in physical play activity in playgrounds. During the tween years (9-12), the daily physical activity levels decline drastically, and it is a common community challenge to find a way to activate young people. But studies show that with the right facilities, tweens’ physical activity can be supported. Tweens want to be with their friends, they want to socialise, and they want to be physically active. So, tweens are often found competing and showing off. They spend their time making friends and emotionally bonding. All of this effortlessly takes place in the playground.

But which commercial outdoor play equipment should one choose to activate tweens? In cooperation with the University of Southern Denmark, the KOMPAN Play Institute conducted a major study using GPS and activity trackers to monitor tweens’ activity on playgrounds. The study shows four main playground activity motivators for tweens:

  • Ball game areas

  • Areas away from the playground

  • Climbing equipment

  • Combinations of active and spectators

Read the science behind this whitepaper in the research article: Where are tweens active in school playgrounds? A hot-spot analysis using GPS, accelerometer, and GIS data, in Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 227, November 2022, 104546

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Tweens love playgrounds

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4 considerations for attracting and activating tweens in playgrounds

  1. Make room for ball game equipment such as MUGAs and Pannas

  2. Plan for tween activity areas away from the main playground

  3. Include playground climbing nets for tween girls such as Space nets and GALAXY structures

  4. Design for areas where some can perform, and some can be spectators

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