OUTDOOR RISKY PLAY
The idea of promoting children’s outdoor risky play may sound counter-intuitive in keeping children safe. However, research suggests that there are important benefits of outdoor risky play for children’s health, development, and well-being. Yet, children’s opportunities have decreased over time, largely due to excessive safety concerns. This trend must be reversed, and it requires a societal shift.
The target is for children and youth to engage in active play and non-organize/structured leisure activities for several hours per day. Boys tend to spend more time playing outdoors than girls, but in general, children of all ages are not meeting these targets.1
BCIRPU Scientist Dr. Mariana Brussoni and her research team have developed an online risk reframing tool to help parents and early childhood educators learn the importance of outdoor risky play and develop strategies for promoting healthy outdoor risky play for children.
To see more research on outdoor risky play, visit the Dr. Brussoni lab website.
Playability (funded by CIHR)
This mixed-methods study aims to better understand physical and socioecological factors that influence children’s outdoor play. Between April 2016 and June 2018, 105 families in three neighbourhoods (Grandview-Woodland, Lower and Central Lonsdale, and Steveston) in Metro Vancouver participated in the study. Various data were collected, including seven days worth of children’s GPS and accelerometry data, qualitative interviews, neighbourhood photos and map drawings, daily diaries, and demographic and other surveys. Dr. Brussoni’s team has published several articles on their research findings and continues to do analyses on the qualitative and quantitative data. These analyses will contribute to informing best practice for design of sustainable and child-friendly urban environments that recognize and include children as active users and meet their needs to positively influence their development and well-being.
Early Childhood Outside! Study (funded by the Government of Canada)
Expanding on the previously developed behaviour change tool to help parents make a plan to support their children’s outdoor risky play, this study’s goal is to develop a risk-reframing tool for early childhood educators. This tool will help early childhood educators learn the importance of outdoor play, reframe perceptions of risk, manage safety fears and guide development of a plan for changing service delivery. Guided by focus group interviews with 40 early childhood educators, students, and licensing officers, the tool will address their needs and concerns in promoting children’s outdoor play at their centre. Included in the tool are six interactive video scenarios (communicating with parents/caregivers, rough and tumble play, play at high speed, play at heights, conflict resolution and play with tools) using a combination of animated characters and props with live action environments. The tool was launched in December 2020.
Early Childhood Outside! Randomized Controlled Trial Study (funded by the Lawson Foundation)
This randomized controlled trial study is to test the efficacy of the risk-reframing tool developed for early childhood educators. This study is recruiting 300 + early childhood educators and/or administrators currently working in Canada.
Eligible participants who agreed to participate will be randomly assigned to one of the two groups: 1) Control group, or, 2) Intervention group, and invited to complete the survey questionnaire at three different timepoints (i.e., baseline, 1–week post–intervention, and 3–months post–intervention). This study is still ongoing.
2019 BC Ministry of Education Play Today Handbook
Dr. Mariana Brussoni’s research on outdoor risky play was cited in the BC Ministry of Education’s 2019 report, Play Today, a guide for BC educators, parents, and families to help facilitate high-quality, play-based learning experiences in children.
City of Vancouver VanPlay Asset Targets
If you want to learn more about what outdoor risky play is and how it can benefit children, or to effectively change your behaviour so you can provide children with a positive outdoor risky play experience, visit OutsidePlay.ca. The tool uses a series of interactive video scenarios to help guide you through a personalized journey, where you can reflect on your own childhood, and identify the underlying reasons and motivations for fear. At the end of the tool, it will guide you in creating a personalized plan to help you make changes in your own context that makes sense to you and your child.
- Injury Insight: Outdoor Schools (PDF) (May 2021)
- Injury Insight: “Kids Bounce Back” After Injury (PDF) (January 2018)
- Injury Insight: Child’s Play: Why it’s Time to Pop the Bubble Wrap (PDF) (February 2015)
- Injury Insight: Is it Safe for Children to Play in Outdoor Spaces? (PDF) (August 2013)
Randomized Controlled Trials on the Practice Tool for Early Childhood Educators Begins – Outsideplay.ca
Outdoor play has so many benefits for children. It promotes healthy social and physical development, emotional wellbeing, self-confidence, risk management and overall physical activity. However, opportunities for outdoor play have been decreasing due to perceptions...
Outdoor play during childcare to become more fulfilling for children with $650k gift to UBC Faculty of Medicine
The Lawson Foundation announced the launch of the second phase of its Outdoor Play Strategy and an investment of $4.95 million in 8 projects that will benefit Early Learning and Child Care across Canada. The $650,000 investment heralds the launch of Promoting Early...
“Advancing Early Childhood Education Outdoors Now” will take place over three sessions this fall.
A qualitative investigation of unsupervised outdoor activities for 10- to 13-year-old children: “I like adventuring but I don’t like adventuring without being careful”
Researchers interviewed children 10 to 13-years-old living in Canada about their feelings of safety and level of activity around unsupervised outdoor play.
1. ParticipACTION. (2020). The 2020 ParticpACTION report card on physical activity for children & youth. Available at: https://participaction.cdn.prismic.io/participaction/f6854240-ef7c-448c-ae5c-5634c41a0170_2020_Report_Card_Children_and_Youth_Full_Report.pdf
2. Brussoni, M., Gibbons, R., Gray, C., Ishikawa, T., Sandseter, E.B.H., Bienenstock, A., Chabot, G., Fuselli, P., Herrington, S., Janssen, I., Pickett, W., Power, M., Stanger, N., Sampson, M., & Tremblay, M.S. (2015). What is the relationship between risky outdoor play and health in children? A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12 (6), 6423 – 6454. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120606423