Children’s Right to Participate in Playground Development

A Critical Review


  • Amy Schoeppich Ryerson University
  • Donna Koller Ryerson University
  • Coralee McLaren Ryerson University


children’s participation, landscape architecture, playgrounds, urban design


Child-friendly cities include playgrounds that can promote healthy childhoods. Children have a right to participate in the planning, construction, evaluation and management of playgrounds intended for their use. This critical review examines 14 peer-reviewed studies published from 2004–2020 focusing on children’s participation in playground creation. After a search across several multidisciplinary databases, we evaluated the selected studies using the LEGEND protocol. Themes derived from the reviewed studies included children’s playground preferences and participatory experiences, as well as adult perceptions of youth involvement. Our analysis exposed gaps, inconsistencies and benefits associated with child participation. We offer recommendations for future engagement of children in playground development.

Author Biographies

Amy Schoeppich, Ryerson University

Amy Schoeppich holds a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Studies from Ryerson University. Her research focuses on children’s participation in the design of outdoor spaces.

Donna Koller, Ryerson University

Donna Koller is a professor within the School of Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson University. Her program of research examines children’s rights and how children experience the world around them.

Coralee McLaren, Ryerson University

Coralee McLaren is an assistant professor at the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing at Ryerson University, and an adjunct scientist at Bloorview Research Institute, Toronto. Her research explores the relationship between movement and cognition in children with diverse abilities.