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Tweens Love Playgrounds

How to motivate tween physical activity in playgrounds

Research from the KOMPAN Play Institute shows how you can best motivate tweens in physical play activity on playgrounds. Daily physical activity levels drastically decline once children enter their tween years (ages 9-12). It's also a common community challenge to find new ways to activate young people. However, studies show that with the right facilities, the physical activity of tweens can be supported. Studies find that tweens want to be with their friends, they want to socialize, and they want to be physically active. They do all of this by competing, showing off, spending time making new friends, and socializing. All of this effortlessly takes place in the playground.

But which 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 4 main playground activity motivators for tweens:

  • Ball game areas

  • Areas away from the playground

  • Climbing equipment

  • Combinations of active and spectators

In the research below, you'll see the data behind where tweens are active while on a school playground. 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

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 climbing equipment for tween girls such as Space Nets and GALAXY structures

  4. Design for areas where some can perform, and some can spectate

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