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Green Schoolyards as Havens from Stress and Resources for Resilience in Childhood and Adolescence

Key Message

This paper describes how natural areas enabled elementary and high school students to escape stress, focus, build competence, and form supportive social groups.


Chawla, Louise et al. (2014). Green schoolyards as havens from stress and resources for resilience in childhood and adolescence. Health & Place. 28: 1-13. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2014.03.001


This paper investigates how green schoolyards can reduce stress and promote protective factors for resilience in students. It documents student responses to green schoolyards in Maryland and Colorado in the United States under three conditions: young elementary school children׳s play in wooded areas during recess; older elementary school children׳s use of a naturalized habitat for science and writing lessons; and high school students׳ involvement in gardening. Drawing on ethnographic observations and interviews, it describes how the natural areas enabled students to escape stress, focus, build competence, and form supportive social groups. These findings have implications for theories of resilience and restoration and school interventions for stress management.



  • We document student responses to green schoolyards in two elementary schools and four settings for high school students.
  • In green schoolyards, students find peace away from stresses in the classroom and daily life.
  • The variety of engaging affordances in green schoolyards promotes focusing.
  • Students in green schoolyards built competence and cooperative social relationships.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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