It’s essential to engage with teenage girls if we want to make parks and public spaces which work for them. After all they’re the experts on both what they want and their local area.

That’s easy enough to say but can seem much harder to do. It’s much easier to connect with current users of a park and it can be quite straightforward to talk to well-established community groups. But part of the problem for teenage girls is that they aren’t the current users of the parks, and often they aren’t well represented on existing community groups.

The other problem is that there are very few precedents, and so teenage girls don’t have a shopping list of things they have seen elsewhere and might want in their own area. So how do we hear those harder to reach voices and enable them to articulate what they need from parks and public space?

Below we attach a number of links to work done by various different organisations to engage with teenagers. Not all of them are looking at girls alone. But we hope that you will find a number of ideas that will inspire you to engage with local girls and create spaces that teenage girls want to use: to become more active, to improve their wellbeing and gain the confidence that as young women they are welcome and entitled to feel safe in public spaces.

We are also working with a range of experts with a view to providing more support in this area… so watch this space!

The HerCity Tool Kit: as the name suggests looking at a “whole city approach” (so a lot more than people need for a single park consultation) but Block 3 (Site Specific Assessment) has some great ideas:

#HerCity – Let her guide you (

Voice Opportunity Power: Practical guidance on how to involve young people (11-18) in the way that places get built and managed. It is for professionals (not young people themselves): developers, designers, planners and sports providers. It is designed to improve participation in – and the quality of – new development and regeneration:                                                                                                                     

Seen and Heard: The LSE ran a series of workshops on planning and public spacewith a mixed group of young people in Brent, London. They produced a charter about what they wanted from public space, but there is also excellent documentation of the workshop process itself.

Young Place makers tool kit: a whole selection of great tools and activities to help talk to young people about the spaces in their local communities.

Play Scape: Playground designers often have the goal of involving the community and particularly its children into the design process.  But it can be difficult to move the conversation beyond swings and slides.  In this column, Susan Solomon provides a practical list of questions for kids and adults that that elicit memories and feelings:

We created a questionnaire for focus groups with girl skateboarders in Leeds. It’s quite comprehensive and can be shortened or adapted as required.

At the other end of the scale, Wincanton Council created a very short online questionnaire as part of the initial stages of their consultation. This was a Google Docs poll and girls could access it via a QR code.