Game plan needed for Hong Kong’s old playgrounds, study finds

Study calls for more exciting equipment in better designed areas, with children and parents complaining of short slides, long swing waits

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 November, 2016, 11:22pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 November, 2016, 11:22pm

Public playgrounds in the city may not offer much fun for some children, as they go down slides that are too short, or wait for what seems like an eternity for a turn at the swing.

According to a study by 27 students from the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong, more than 35 per cent of children and over 75 per cent of parents interviewed found facilities at such playgrounds lacking.

The students are part of the “Junior Chief Executive” programme, which serves as a platform for children to organise initiatives, participate in and express views on various social issues.

The poll, conducted between July and last month, interviewed 1,200 children and around 450 parents.

The survey also found that the top three most popular facilities among the children were the slide, swing and rope course.

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But more than 60 per cent of the children’s responses indicated a hope for these three playground equipment to be more exciting.

Meanwhile, 84.4 per cent of the parents’ responses showed they wanted slides to come in different heights, and 71 per cent also had a similar request for the rope course. About 67 per cent of parents’ responses also asked that the swings be able to accommodate more people.

About 65.5 per cent of children and 42.7 per cent of adults said they did not use public playground facilities or stopped using them because they did not have the time.

Meanwhile, 57.6 per cent of children and 50.5 per cent of parents said they did not use these facilities or stopped using them because they felt that they were not suitable for the child’s age.

Based on the results of the survey, the “Junior Chief Executives” called for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to take into consideration the opinions of children and parents in designing public playgrounds to boost their appeal and review the current number of facilities and their usage.

The group also called for a balance between work and rest.

Politician and former lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee, who is an advocate for children’s issues, said public playground facilities in Hong Kong are not regularly upgraded. He added that some of the equipment were more than 10 years old.

He called for them to be regularly updated and for a diversity in the equipment, such as that in other countries like the United States.

For example, Fung suggested improving the design of the playground equipment to make them more attractive to children.

“During my recent trip to Seattle, Washington, I saw an astronaut-themed slide in a public playground,” he said, adding that it was very creative.

In September last year, a study by a children’s rights group, Playright Children’s Play Association, found that Hong Kong’s playgrounds are too boring for most children, with these sites being empty a quarter of the time during the summer.

The group also said that though most of the playgrounds are safe, and have satisfactory access for children with disabilities, they lacked diversity and did not stimulate children’s innate urge to take on challenges and for interaction.