This research, commissioned by Yorkshire Sport Foundation, is an important first step to understanding how teenage girls feel about being active outdoors in their local parks and green spaces. Girls use parks less and face many barriers to exercising.
This comes from a lack of understanding of their needs in park design and the way society sees and treats them when they get there. These stifle enjoyment and limits their right to enjoy the wealth of health and wellbeing benefits of being active in the great outdoors.
By listening to girls the report found:
- Twice as many girls as boys feel unsafe exercising in their local park (49% cf. 26%)
- Only 34% of girls enjoy exercising in their local park compared to 63% of boys
- 73% of girls say feeling watched puts them off exercising in the park
- 78% of girls say a lack of toilets and changing facilities make parks undesirable spaces
We have a great chance to engage more teenage girls in outdoor activity post-pandemic. Girls value the importance of being fit, active and outdoors more than ever for their mental health and wellbeing.
Many girls have positive memories and feelings of being active in parks from childhood. This provides a positive start point, if we can reframe their current perceptions of parks to increase their relevance.
But we must design spaces through their eyes and inspire and support them to discover the potential of their local parks. Many girls would like to have more say in shaping their local parks but have rarely been asked their opinion and feel they won’t be listened to. Their voice must be acted upon for any consultation and engagement to be meaningful.
This research provides key insights into their barriers and needs to drive change if we want to create more inclusive parks and green spaces, where every girl can experience the joy and freedom of outdoor exercise.