A University of Wollongong researcher hopes her study on how children play will assist town planners in building better playgrounds.
Kiera Kent, 26, is doing a PhD in social sciences and will interview Illawarra families and observe kids in the act of fun.
Her focus will be on how children incorporate random objects like twigs or rocks when playing in manmade spaces and natural spaces like rock pools.
‘‘Those informal spaces are just as important as playgrounds,’’ she said. ‘‘Often [rock pools] aren’t really talked about as a family space. They’ve also been in debate the last couple of years...with community discussion [on whether] to close them.’’
Her study has so far highlighted a play strategy released by Wollongong City Council in 2014, incorporating the ideas of young people into the development of new kid-friendly spaces as a way to try and give children what they want.
‘‘They’re doing a lot of work just to get children involved in the planning process,’’ she said. ‘‘Getting children to talk about what they want to see in the space and actually carry through.’’
The recent addition of a playground at Thirroul was a good example, using different play activities suited to different ages.
Ms Kent’s previous research has been around child development and psychology. Originally from Canada, she has noted a lot of similarities between Wollongong spaces and those in her home town of Amherstburg.
Families with children aged from three to 12 can help the researcher by participating. Ms Kent needs 20 clans to chat to, in a bid at making city playgrounds better places. To get involved, email: email@example.com