A new report has found that the 90 per cent of those using park facilities in the South West are boys and young men. Looking at all of the options for teenagers in parks, including skate parks, Multi Use Games Areas (MUGA’s) and BMX, they found that teenage girls are designed out of these spaces as these were primarily used by boys.
The project involved hundreds of volunteer participants across the UK who recorded how many teenagers were using their local park, with over 1800 teenagers being part of the study between 27th and 29th May.They also surveyed teenagers across 90 councils in the UK on what was provided in these spaces.
In the South West, 95 per cent of users on MUGAs were boys and young men, as were 89 per cent of users on skate parks and BMX tracks. The ParkWatch project was organised by the charity Make Space for Girls who campaign for the design of parks and other public spaces to include teenage girls and young women.
In the report the charity’s co-founder, Imogen Clark explained the scale of the disparity saying that “What this research shows is that for every £100,000 a council in the South West spends on a MUGA, is actually £95,000 spent on boys, and just £5,000 on girls.”
She also noted that this inequality is reinforced by council policies and has an impact on girls’ physical and mental wellbeing. One teenage girl who was interviewed expressed frustration at the lack of seating to socialise with friends. Where seating was available it was usually positioned for spectating around the sports areas so that girls’ only option was to watch the boys play sports.
This inequality is reinforced by council policies and has an impact on girls’ physical and mental wellbeing
This is the first real data to confirm this bias in the design of these spaces therefore the charity has urged councils to take action to rectify this to improve the experience of parks for all teenagers.