Dr Jason Gilliland, Director of the Urban Development Program, was recently interviewed by the Calgary Metro News to comment on a new report by the Calgary Foundation on the health and well-being of that city. The report highlighted that parks and playgrounds have lost their appeal among children, who now have more options for recreation such as organized sport and video games. Calgary’s children are more likely to attend a scheduled hockey practice than to meet up with some friends in the neighbourhood for an impromptu swing on the monkey bars. Dr Gilliland commented on research in the Human Environments Analysis Lab in the Dept of Geography which indicates that “free play” outdoors is still critical for children’s optimal growth and development, and that geographic accessibility and the design of parks and playgrounds plays a major role in whether kids will actually use them. In addition to opportunities for organized sports such as hockey, it is critical that a diversity of high quality public parks, playgrounds and open spaces be available for residents of all ages, as close proximity to parks and recreation opportunities has been linked to increased levels of physical activity for children and reduced likelihood of them being obese. Read the full article here.