Human Environments Analysis Lab (HEAL)

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Journal of Planning Education and Research

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Neighborhoods have traditionally served as important settings for children’s independent activities, but use has declined dramatically. Global positioning system (GPS) monitors, activity diaries, annotated maps, and Google Earth–enabled interviews captured the neighborhood perceptions, usage, and independent activity ranges of twenty-three children (nine to twelve years) from London, Canada. While few participants used neighborhood settings on a habitual basis, local parks and homes of nearby friends were important independent destinations. Usage was strongly influenced by positive and negative social conditions, but local environments did not generally cater well to the shifting interests of resident children. Embedding child-friendly affordances through neighborhood planning may improve children’s experience and independent use of local settings.


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