Play & Social Equity

A recent survey from Voice of Play found that nearly nine out of 10 (88%) parents agree that outdoor play helps children cope with the mental impacts of social injustice in the United States. And 87% feel that right now, play is more important than ever for children. As the United States continues to battle the pandemic and struggles to address issues around social injustice, public playgrounds can play an important role in fostering inclusiveness and play equity.

According to the survey, jut about half of parents (49%) said their children are currently playing on public playgrounds. Among those whose children were not currently playing on playgrounds, the primary reason given was discomfort letting them (50%). Some 47% said government restrictions were still in place or that the playground equipment was physically roped off or locked.

Asked what would need to happen for them to allow their children to play on public playgrounds again, 42% said COVID-19 numbers would need to be steadily decreasing in their area, and 40% said a vaccine would need to be available. One-third )33%) said they would let their kids play at the public playground when their local or state government reopened playgrounds for use.

When it comes to social equity and inclusion, nine out of 10 parents said that spontaneous play with other kids on the playground shapes their children's views of equality for all, regardless of race and ability levels. Some 92% agreed that playing on the playground helps children to be inclusive of others who may have different abilities and backgrounds than their own. When asked what positive impacts they see from their children playing with others on public playgrounds, 42% of parents said "playing with children of all abilities."

The survey also asked parents what steps within their own community would have the greatest impact on increasing opportunities for play for all children. Their responses:

  • Increased government funding for constructing inclusive playground equipment (26%)
  • Policy changes to keep recess and PE programs in schools (25%)
  • Community action to increase access to playgrounds (22%)
  • Increased government funding for organized athletic programs (17%)

Voice of Play is an initiative from the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association promoting growth in the quality and quantity of children's free play and the use of playgrounds. Visit to learn more.