June 15th is Nature Play Day in Canada! So celebrate the fun of frolicking outdoors in your backyard, a local park, schoolyard, or rooftop garden with the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada (@cnalliance).
We didn't always need for a dedicated day reminding us to play outside. When I was a kid, we were rarely inside—except on Saturday mornings when we watched cartoons from seven until noon.
On my grandparents' farm we climbed trees (ripping many pairs of pants), played horse and rider (if you were the horse you had to suck on a piece of bailer twine), and combed the creek for frogs and salamanders (a catch-and-release operation).
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Engaging in what's called "natural" play today—compared to organized sports and activities—is how we (my brother and I) learned boundaries and when to take risks.
Take, for example, my plan to wade into the creek barefoot (foregoing rubber boots) in hopes of catching more wood and chorus frogs. We ended up covered from the knee down in leeches. Being older, I cleaned the blood suckers off my brother's legs first while he screamed his head off. Lesson learned.
Concrete jungle or welcoming green space?
What's the playground like at your kids' school or your neighbourhood community centre? Research shows that naturalized playgrounds provide more variety of play opportunities, supporting social interaction and physical development. They also meet a child's individual needs according to developmental stages, learning styles, personality types, friendship patterns, and culture.
Of course, no playground is risk-free. But those that are well-designed provide opportunities for children to engage in healthy risk taking. If playgrounds are too safe, kids won't learn to assess risk.
Share your plans for getting the darlings outside on June 15th and be eligible for prizes! And don't forget to take our June 30×30 Challenge. We're asking Canadians to spend 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days to improve their lives.
Do you have fond memories of healthy, risk-taking play in nature?
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green