Children's representations of nature using photovoice and community mapping: perspectives from South Africa

Sabirah Adams*, Shazly Savahl, Tobia Fattore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
134 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of the study was to explore children’s representations and perceptions of natural spaces using photovoice and community mapping. The sample consisted of 28 children aged 12–14 years residing in urban and rural communities in the Western Cape, South Africa. Data were collected by means of a series of six focus groups interviews (three photovoice discussion groups and three community mapping discussion groups). For the photovoice missions, children were provided with a 28-exposure disposable camera and given 1 week to complete their missions. Thematic analysis was employed to analyse the data. Three key themes emerged, namely: safe spaces in nature, unsafe spaces in nature, and children’s favourite places in nature. Socio-economic status (SES) was found to be a determining factor in how children make sense of natural spaces. Children from low SES communities indicated being more constricted in their mobility, and were unable to access to safe natural spaces compared to the children from the middle SES community. It is recommended that an expedient starting point would be to work towards and build environmentally and child-friendly communities for children, with children as key contributors in the planning process using a child participation framework.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1333900
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • children
  • visual representations
  • socio-economic status
  • photovoice
  • community mapping
  • Western Cape
  • South Africa


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