Project: Risky Play Meets Nature Play (2012-2017)
Publication: “Outdoor play spaces in Canada: As if children mattered.” The Sage Handbook of outdoor play and learning (2017): 143-159.
Recent decades have seen a reduction in children’s opportunities for outdoor play and a proliferation of KFC-style play spaces for children in Canada. There are, however, encouraging trends that indicate an interest in promoting children’s outdoor play and designing quality play spaces that incorporate natural materials. In this chapter we have profiled two initiatives in Canada that are beginning to change attitudes towards children’s outdoor play and improve the landscapes designed for their play. The Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play is starting to influence the conversation on children’s outdoor play and has the potential to shape legislative decisions regarding children’s outdoor play. The Seven Cs design guidelines, which address the physical design of outdoor play spaces, have helped Canadian communities provide developmentally rich play environments. It is clear that promoting an approach to children’s play that values access to the outdoors and a high quality play space design requires a multi-pronged effort that addresses society’s social, legal and physical contexts. Activities in Canada illustrate potential approaches that can be adapted to local contexts for promoting necessary change.