We invite you to #Pledge4PLAY during Earth Month (April 1-30) to support creating Adventure Playgrounds in Canada.
Your pledge of $100+ enters you into a draw for a chance to win a family trip to the famous Berkeley Marina Adventure Playground in California, courtesy of our partners at the Air Canada Foundation.
Remember how you played as a child? Did you spend a lot of time outside, building forts, climbing trees, inventing new games and getting your hands dirty, without any grownups around? I did, too — and these experiences led me on the path to where I am today at Earth Day Canada.
According to new research from a professor at UBC, outdoor unstructured play time is a key ingredient for instilling a sense of environmental stewardship in children. Furthermore, a 2015 ParticiPACTION report says this type of play is essential to healthy childhood development. And yet, it has been rapidly disappearing for the past several decades.
A recent UNICEF study ranks Canada 24th out of 29 countries when it comes to children’s health and happiness; 20 percent of them are considered obese; and about 70% of Canadian youth get outside for less than an hour each day.
When I was a kid, the world outside our front door was an adventure playground, where we were free to explore and roam with other kids from the neighbourhood. Today, our local parks are among the few places children have to spend time outdoors, but these spaces offer little in the way of physical challenge, social engagement or creative inspiration, and are typically viewed as “boring” by older kids. Parents and caregivers hover everywhere, sometimes just monitoring but often micromanaging the activity.
An emerging response to creating better outdoor play opportunities for children and youth is the introduction (or reintroduction) of Adventure Playgrounds. These are curated wild spaces, bursting with natural materials (straw, water, dirt, logs) and loose parts (spare tires, netting, cardboard, buckets), often with tools available to help kids transform all the bits and pieces into forts and ships and hiding places. The children decide what they want to do and how they will do it, with trained play-workers on-site to supervise, not direct, the play.
Canada once had adventure playgrounds, and Earth Day Canada is working hard to bring them back — because adventure play gets kids outside, active and stimulated, which keeps them happy and healthy; because the next generation won’t have any motivation to protect our planet if they’re stuck indoors; and because adventure play fosters inclusion and a deeper sense of community.
Let’s make sure our kids get outside and get the play they deserve — before it’s too late.