Over the past four years our team has scored nearly 100 playgrounds around Boston. The scorecard results for each playground are aggregated here and used to draw conclusions about the state of playground inclusivity in the city.
Each colored dot indicates a playground that our team has scored. The grey dots indicate playgrounds in Boston that the team has not had the opportunity to visit.
When looking at the data across the over 40 playgrounds scored in Boston, it is easy to notice certain strengths and weaknesses. In the graph to the right, depicting aggregated responses from the inclusivity section of the scorecard, one can observe that Boston offers plenty of seating and does a good job at integrating the inclusive equipment with the rest of the play area.
Boston does, however, appear lackluster in categories like shaded equipment and wheelchair accessible, physically engaging equipment. In many Boston playgrounds, under 40% of equipment is covered from direct sunlight, either by trees or separate shade structures.
In terms of inclusive elements, Boston shines in the category of imaginary play. On average each playground has 2.3 imaginary play elements and at least one cognitive play element. However, in the categories of audible, tactile, wheelchair accessible, visual, and constructive Boston playgrounds average less than one element per playground.
Compared to national datasets, Boston is lagging behind in terms of shade coverage in its playgrounds. In the image below, darker shades of blue indicate that a greater % of the playground is covered in shade. This map also gives an indication of the number and spacing of playgrounds in Boston.
With open space being in short supply in areas around Boston, like Fenway-Kenmore and Roxbury, one cannot expect an individual playground to meet every single need. With this in mind, the data shows that Boston does a good job at distributing various types of equipment across their playgrounds in each neighborhood. In the South End, 12 playgrounds have been scored. Even though these playgrounds average among the lowest of all the neighborhoods across all categories, it ranked second among the neighborhoods when considering the best elements and scores from each playground. In fact, when looking at the maximum scores, it scored mostly 4s and 5s for inclusivity, and all 5s for the playground functions. The only exceptions were, as mentioned in the section above, shaded equipment and wheelchair accessible, physically engaging equipment.
Not all areas have this many playgrounds. The entire Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood only has two listed playgrounds. Roslindale only has four. While the city has been recently renovating the play spaces in the latter neighborhood, there has not been as much progress in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood, which is one of the lowest ranked neighborhoods on average and when considering the best scores across the two playgrounds.