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Environmental Equity Is Child's Play: Mapping Public Provision of Recreation Opportunities in Urban Neighbourhoods
Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies
  • Jason Gilliland, The University of Western Ontario
  • Martin Holmes, The University of Western Ontario
  • Jennifer D. Irwin, The University of Western Ontario
  • Patricia Tucker, The University of Western Ontario
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This paper examines the spatial distribution of recreational opportunities for children and youth in a mid-sized Canadian city (London, Ontario), in relation to the socioeconomic status of neighbourhoods and estimated local need for publicly provided recreation spaces. Public recreation facilities (N = 537) throughout the city were identified, mapped and analysed in a geographic information system. To explore potential socio-environmental inequities, neighbourhoods (N = 22) were characterized by socioeconomic and environmental variables, an index of neighbourhood social distress, a neighbourhood play space needs index, and measures of the prevalence and density of recreational opportunities. The results of the spatial analysis indicate there is no systematic socioenvironmental inequity with respect to the prevalence and density of publicly provided neighbourhood recreation spaces; however, there are several areas in the city where youth do not have access to formal play spaces. We argue that to promote physical activity among urban children and youth, city planners and health policy analysts should consider carefully the geographical distribution of existing recreational opportunities and ensure that new publicly funded recreation spaces are provided to neighbourhoods with the greatest need. Further research should seek to identify what kinds of recreation spaces are most effective for promoting healthy behaviours among vulnerable children and youth.


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Jason Gilliland, Martin Holmes, Jennifer D. Irwin & Patricia Tucker (2006) Environmental equity is child's play: mapping public provision of recreation opportunities in urban neighbourhoods, Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 1:3, 256-268, DOI: 10.1080/17450120600914522