The role of playground facilities on preschool children’s participation in outdoor play activities in Mombasa County, Kenya
Asaji, Wijenje Phyllis
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Studies show that there has been a decline in children’s involvement in play. Some studies have therefore sought to establish factors that influence children’s participation in play but availability of playground facilities and children’s participation in outdoor play has received minimal attention. The purpose of this study therefore sought to establish the role of playground facilities on preschool children’s participation in outdoor play activities. The objectives of the study were; to establish the extent to which children participate in outdoor play activities; to identify the types of playground facilities available in preschools; to examine the safety of playground facilities on children’s participation in outdoor play activities; to determine the influence of age appropriate playground facilities on children’s participation in outdoor play activities. The study was guided by affordance theory by James Gibson that states the possibility of an action on an environment and relationship between the environment and an organism. The study adopted a descriptive survey design. Through random sampling technique, 21 preschools (27%) of 78 preschools in Mvita sub-county, Mombasa County were selected. The sample comprised 21 teachers teaching preschool children aged between five and six from 21 preschools. Questionnaires were used to collect data from the teachers while the observation schedule was utilized to collect first hand data on children participating in outdoor play activities, and availability, type, safety and age-appropriateness of playground facilities. Test-retest procedures were used to establish reliability of the instruments. The instruments were found to be positively correlated at 0.71 using Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficient. Content validity was sought by analyzing the items against the study objectives. Quantitative data were analysed by the use of frequencies and percentages for each research question. The findings revealed that children’s general participation in outdoor play activities was not influenced by availability or lack of adequate playground facilities. The study also revealed that most children participated in a particular outdoor activity because of the availability and the type of playground facility their school had. Further findings revealed that playground facilities in all schools sampled had issues with safety checks. Based on these findings, it is recommended that schools have adequate number and types of playground facilities so that all children can play in outdoor activities in a conducive and comfortable space to enhance their level of participation. It is also recommended that the County Government conduct routine inspection on the playground facilities to ensure safety measures are in place, while non-governmental organizations to support in provision and installation of playground facilities in preschools.