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Table 2 Methods and outcomes for Play Streets and Play Streets-style interventions

From: Systematic review of how Play Streets impact opportunities for active play, physical activity, neighborhoods, and communities

  Outcomes for Key Domains
Reference Methods Active Play Physical Activity Neighborhood and Community
Play Streets
 Cortinez-O’Ryan et al. (2017) [41] Wrist pedometers (children) 1 week accept water activities (baseline, final: 12th–14th week), parental surveys (baseline, final: 12th–14th week, 86% mothers), systematic counts of play every hour of intervention, 8 semi-structured interviews (3 pre, 5 during, 8 post), 4 focus groups (2 pre, 2 post). Mean attendance n = 60 (SD = 22, reach =34% of neighborhood kids, 58% of participants were girls). Peak attendance was reached towards latter part. 24 (92%) of Play Streets were implemented as planned. Most commonly used play materials: balls and jump ropes (primarily used in activities guided by adults-96%). Interviews with adults: children only play on block where they live (parental permission/trust of own block), neighbors wanted street play intervention to continue longer, but it was not. Parent survey: significant increase in number of weekdays with outdoor play for intervention participants, after-school outdoor playtime, and weekly outdoor playtime after-school. Overall intervention cost = USD $2275. Parent surveys: primary motivation for outdoor play = presence of other children (59%), street play replaced screen time for 62% of children. Pedometer: significantly more steps from baseline to final assessment in intervention participants (Monday to Sunday) and during the 3-h intervention. Significant increase in intervention children meeting pedometer-derived physical activity recommendations from baseline to final assessment. No significant differences for steps on intervention days were found. Control participants had no significant differences from baseline to final assessments for steps. Comments during session: n = 16 supportive comments from neighbors, n = 5 complaints (mostly noise), n = 26 car drivers complained about traffic detours. Traffic stewards increased perceived safety, viewed as “eyes in the street”.
Parent surveys: baseline main reason parents did not allow street play for child was traffic/stranger danger (76%); baseline 4% of children had permission to play in street without supervision, 65% had permission when street was closed to traffic; baseline 35% agreed that neighborhood was safe for children to play during daytime, 54% agreed during final session. 30% of intervention parents reported meeting new neighbors, 54% strengthened relationships with neighbors previously met. How was it useful for children: 36% child was more sociable/more friends; 28% child more independent/confident.
 Murray & Devecchi (2016) [43] Resident surveys (child and adult). Semi-structured interviews with residents (parents and children) during an event or via telephone. Field notes. Field notes: mean attendance n = 14.66 (SD = 6.2, range: 8–33), 50% boys; 1 rainout with n = 0 attendance. Play was planned, resourced, initiated, led and supervised by project adults, project adults played with children during sessions to ensure play. Children and parents identified activities. Interviews: 56% had not attended (timing conflicted or did not know about it). All interviewees with child attendee said child liked it. “enjoyment” was liked most (29%). Preference for activity linked to mastery (36% of children). 43% of parents said without the street play project that their children would be indoors; 86% said children do play outside even without project. 71% of parents / 43% residents valued project because it provided safe and supervised outdoor play for local children. Surveys: 68% were not aware of the project, 32% who were aware found out through word of mouth, school fliers, street notices, project workers. 61% thought street play project was a good opportunity for children to play safely outdoors. Parent surveys: Activities played by children: parachute, coloring, skipping, snakes and ladders, counting on the rockets, hula hoop, races, marbles, dice (often used as a football), ball, cycling (own bikes), “stuck with sellotape”, getting exercise, “lots of things”. Child surveys: freedom/new activities preferred (80% said they liked new or different play equipment; 24% liked learning new games/activities) NR Surveys: Social interaction opportunities provided by project were valued by parents, children, and residents; most residents said project helped children and adults interact more. Street play was identified as: 61% a good way for children to make new friends; 56% a good way for children to feel part of the community, 28% a good way for neighbors to get to know each other better, 20% it led to a better sense of community. Interviews: 43% of parents identified social interaction as the main reason they liked the project.
 Zieff et al. (2016) [16] 1) Adult surveys, 2) System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC), 3) Google Earth Pro and maps from City of San Francisco website (1/4 mile radius around each Play Streets location) Attendance NR. Adult survey respondents most liked: free place to exercise (34%); convenient location (32%); and a place for social interaction (24%). 36% attended to be physically active, 50% reported climbing wall as favorite activity, 97% said they would attend again.
% impact of added open space in relation to existing open space: added space was primarily a result of streets closed to motorized vehicles, but also included 1 closed parking lot. There was an increase of open space ranging from 47 to 100% (47% in Tenderloin, 50% in Bay view, and 100% in Excelsior).
Activities included climbing wall, bicycle ramps, and spontaneous activities (magic show, basketball, soccer, tag, bean bag throw, sidewalk chalk drawing, Zumba, and hula hoops).
During Play Streets, the majority of children ≤14 yrs. of age engaged in some non-sedentary activity; children were engaged in vigorous activity more than other age groups; accompanying adults were engaged primarily in sedentary behavior; many female teens were sedentary. Play Streets increased the proportion of people who were engaged in vigorous physical activity by 23.1%, but also increased proportion of people engaged in primarily sedentary behavior by 24.7% (mostly accompanying parents who sat and watched children). During non-Play Streets, fewer people were seen and most activity was walking (65%). Adult surveys: 94% agreed or strongly agreed that Play Streets strengthens their community.
 D’Haese et al. (2015) [17] 1) Child’s accelerometer data (8 consecutive days of wear: 4 non-Play Streets days, 4 Play Streets days) for both Play Streets and non-Play Streets children, 2) Pre-post parent surveys Attendance NR.
Parent Surveys: Of parents whose child played at Play Streets 62.5% reported daily use of Play Streets, 6.3% used the Play Street every weekday, 15.6% used it 1/week. 75.0% totally agreed that their child was enthusiastic about the Play Street, 59.4% perceived their child played more outside during the Play Street as usual.
Accelerometers: Significant differences in sedentary time and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were found between a normal week and an intervention week. In intervention streets, sedentary time was less (137.7 mins/day vs. 146.3 mins/day) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was higher during the intervention condition (35.8 mins/day vs. 26.7 mins/day). In control streets, sedentary time was higher (164.6 mins/day vs. 156.5 mins/day) and moderate-to-vigorous PA was lower (24.3 mins/day vs. 26.9 mins/day). Parent Surveys: 78.2% rather to totally agree that their child had a lot of friends in the Play Street; 71.9% rather to totally agree that it was safe to play in the Play Street for their child; 59.4% felt they had more social contact with neighbors thanks to the Play Streets;
Play Streets-style intervention with temporary closure of a street or parking lot
 McGlone (2016) [22] 1) Teacher supervised semi-structured interviews with children that used pop-up park, 2) Children’s focus group, 3) Adult focus group, 4) Observations Attendance NR. All participants viewed Pop-up Park as “fairly important” or “very important” to the community; most children liked that there was a flexible space with no traditional play equipment; >  1/2 the children enjoyed the freedom of the set up; children used space for relaxation, semi-structured play, a place to enjoy nature. Primary themes from study: full barrier fencing is needed for safety, signage needed to be improved, recommended softer ground to reduce injuries, adult supervision is important for safety, seating is needed for adults, children preferred for space to remain flexible without any traditional park equipment (e.g., slides), space provided a different vantage point of community, some local residents expressed that it was a nuisance. Adult opinion: temporary space provided respite for some children and fostered creativity given lack of structure. NR Child Focus Group: Increased connection to the community was expressed; few expressed negative response by residents, although some conflict was experienced; pop-up park provided a different view of public life than other places. Child & Adult focus groups: all viewed space as fairly to very important to the local community due to need for more gathering space or children’s enjoyment of having contact with other people in community.
 Espinoza et al. (2012) [42] Baseline data collected via questionnaire administered in the home (and in Spanish), along with informal feedback collected from children and parents before, during, and after 12-week intervention period, to document barriers, aesthetics, proximity and availability of parks, open spaces or green belts in the 92,701 zip code, and the time it takes to walk to the nearest PA amenity. Daily attendance logs were collected to document children’s utilization of the MPAU. Overall attendance was NR. During the 12 weeks, 100% of the children surveyed (n = 24) participated during weeks 1, 4, 10, and 12. 62% of the kids did not miss a session and during week 11, 25% (n = 6) children were absent.
The study stated that comments from several parents during the informal interviews clearly demonstrates the need for this intervention in areas where there are very limited open spaces and/or parks.
Children reportedly had “very positive and encouraging comments about their desire to play and be physical active”. Many children reportedly wanted the project to be held seven days a week instead of two, and some of the parents were also described as expressing this feeling.
NR One parent reported that she “no longer worried about her child when they came to participate in the MPAU” (worry was from an incident where her child was hit by a car when playing in front of her home).
Other parents felt that the MPAU provide a healthy and safe environment and that the volunteers served as great role models.
Authors also reported an unexpected outcome: a parent approached one of the project staff and expressed her interest in developing exercise classes for the parents as well.
Community involvement was cited as one of the contributing factors to the success of the MPAU.
  1. NR not reported, hrs hours, mins minutes, MPAU mobile physical activity unit, n sample size, PA physical activity, SD standard deviation, USD United States dollars
  2. Note. Based on a systematic literature review conducted on peer-reviewed intervention studies published worldwide, in English, through December 2017 that documented free-to-access Play Streets or other temporary spaces that incorporated a designated play area (Play Streets-style interventions)