Outdoor Play Canada is a growing network of leaders and organizations working together to galvanize an outdoor play movement across Canada.

Our Vision

Outdoor play is a valued part of daily life for all people living in Canada.

Our Mission

Outdoor Play Canada is a network of advocates, practitioners, researchers and organizations working together to promote, protect, and preserve access to play in nature and the outdoors for all people living in Canada. Outdoor Play Canada provides leadership to galvanize the outdoor play movement across Canada to promote the health and wellness of Canadians and the environments in which we live.

Our Team

mariana-brussoni

Mariana Brussoni, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, The University of British Columbia

Bio

heather-cowie

Heather Cowie

General Manager, Community and Protective Services at City of Fort Saskatchewan

Bio

marlene-power

Marlene Power

Executive Director, The Child and Nature Alliance

Bio

mark-tremblay

Mark Tremblay, Ph.D.

Director, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group

Bio

frank-welsh

Frank Welsh, Ph.D.

Directory of Policy, Canadian Public Health Association

Bio

The history of outdoor play advocacy, practice and research in Canada is diverse and strong. Recently, there has been a marked increase in multi-sector efforts to align our work and build a movement together. This timeline captures only some of the pivotal way points and events that are contributing to our momentum. It is important for the outdoor play story in Canada to honour the work of leaders who have paved the way, to build on each other's work and respect the cultural and historical relevance of all of our work.

September 28, 2019

The inaugural Outdoor Play Canada Awards are awarded: (1) Honour Award: The Lawson Foundation, (2) Dr. Mariana Brussoni Award: Dr. Mariana Brussoni, (3) Policy Award: The City of Calgary, Parks and Recreation, (4) Practice Award: Maple Ridge Environmental School, (5) Research Award: Dr. Ian Janssen, (6) Youth Award: Chloe Dragon Smith.

September 27, 2019

Outdoor Play Canada is launched at the Breath of Fresh Air Outdoor Play Summit in Ottawa.

September 27-29, 2019

The first Canadian Outdoor Play Summit takes place at the Ottawa Forest and Nature School, and Wesley Clover Parks Campground.

October 24-26, 2018

Lawson Foundation hosts the Outdoor Play & Early Learning Policy Research Invitational Symposium in Toronto.

June 1, 2018

The Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health (CCMOH) Statement supports and endorses the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play developed by a coalition of organizations in 2015, which states: ``Access to active play in nature and outdoors-with its risks-is essential for healthy child development. We recommend increasing children's opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings-at home, at school, in child care, the community and nature.``

May 30, 2018

A Common Vision for Increasing Physical Activity and Reducing Sedentary Living in Canada: Let’s Get Moving is released in May, 2018 by the Government of Canada.

May 8-10, 2018

Gathering Strength: Framework for Recreation in Canada Forum, Regina - May 8-10, Canadian Parks and Recreation Association.

Parks for All

Parks for All, An Action Plan for Canada’s Parks Community embeds outdoor play within some strategic action items as an essential part of strengthening children’s connection to nature. Canadian Parks Council and Canadian Parks and Recreation Association.

#Nature4All

#Nature4All in Canada was formed as a collaborative of partners working together to advance the #nature4all movement in Canada. Outdoor Play Canada is a contributor to this collective impact model.

September 13-16, 2017

Unleashing the Power of Play 20th International Play Association (IPA) Triennial World Conference, Calgary - Sept. 13-16

June 26-28, 2017

Moving Research to Action for Healthy Kids Children’s Health and the Environment Workshop and Symposium, London, ON - June 26-28

April 18-21, 2017

Children Need Nature, Nature Needs Kids, Child and Nature Network International Conference, Vancouver, B.C.

March 8-11, 2017

Parks, Protected Areas, Open Spaces and Public Places, Canadian Parks Conference - Banff, AB. Keynotes and workshops focused on health, nature and play.

February 2017

Formation of Outdoor Play Canada, a growing network of multi-sector leaders working collaboratively to grow the outdoor play movement in Canada.

December 2016

Ontario Trillium Foundation invests in the development of Outdoor Play Canada through the collective impact stream of funding.

Fall 2016

Initial development of the Outdoor Play Strategic Impact Plan.

June 2016

Canadian Outdoor Play Working Group transitions to design a collective impact model and process with national scope and provincial application in Ontario.

April 2016

Ontario Trillium Foundation funds an initial stage of an Outdoor Play Collective Impact project.

April 2016

Canadian Parks Summit - Canmore, AB - Parks for All document drafted. Canadian Outdoor Play Working Group provides input to include the role of outdoor play as integral for building a child’s connection with nature.

March 31, 2016

Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released the report, Obesity in Canada - A Whole of Society Approach for a Healthier Canada, including a few recommendations to encourage and enable outdoor play.

January 2016

Lawson Foundation Outdoor Play Strategy launched, with an initial investment of $2.7 million between 2013-2018 in outdoor play initiatives across Canada. The Lawson Foundation's total investment in outdoor play has now reached almost $5 million.

September 2015

Supreme Court of British Columbia accepted the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play and 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card as ‘social fact’ and ‘authority’ evidence and ruled in favour of the District of Saanich that it was not negligent in a case involving a child and outdoor play (a game of grounders).

June 2015

Position Statement Strategic Planning Meeting - Ottawa, ON. Position Statement on Outdoor Active Play partners and community experts identified stakeholder gaps & a dissemination strategy.

June 9, 2015

Release of the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play.

June 9, 2015

Release of the ParticipACTION 2015 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

February 12-13, 2015

Provincial and Territorial Ministers endorsed and the Government of Canada supported the Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015. The announcement took place at the 2015 Conference of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation.

January 2015

Position Statement Working Group initiated the Position Statement draft process at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto, lead by Dr. Mark Tremblay and the CHEO-HALO research group.

December 2014

Child care legislation in all provinces and territories require the provision of designated outdoor play space for licensed early learning and care programs.

November 2014

Recreation Framework Summit - Toronto. Endorsement of A Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015 – Pathways to Wellbeing.

Spring 2014

Systematic reviews initiated to gather evidence: 1. What is the relationship between outdoor time and physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and physical fitness in children? 2. What is the relationship between risky outdoor play and health in children?

February 2014

Canadian Parks Council releases the report, Connecting Canadians with Nature.

November 5-7, 2013

Canadian Injury Prevention & Safety Promotion Conference – Montreal - pre conference workshop Risky Play Symposium, As safe as possible or as safe as necessary - can injury prevention include healthy risk promotion? The resulting paper was published, Can child injury prevention include healthy risk promotion?

May 2013

Active Canada 20/20 National Roundtable - New Brunswick. Active Play Action Group formed.

April 17, 2013

Committee on the Rights of the Child provides General comment No. 17 (2013) on the right of the child to rest, leisure, play, recreational activities, cultural life and the arts (art. 31).

2012

Right in Principle, Right in Practice, Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Canada, Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children.

2012

Active Canada 20/20, the national physical activity sector strategic plan, was launched and includes references to the need for ‘spontaneous’ play within the context of physical activity.

May 29, 2012

Is Active Play Extinct?, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth includes the outdoor and nature indicator and highlights play as an essential part of child and youth physical activity levels.

September 2011

Healthy by Nature Conference - multi-sector dialogue to support the connection between human health and nature. Vancouver, BC.

November 2010

Healthy Children Healthy Spaces Conference - Ottawa, ON. Hosted an indicator workshop for the development of an outdoor and nature indicator to be included in the 2011 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card.

December 13, 1991

Canada ratifies United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Goals

To be the unified voice of leadership on outdoor play in Canada.
To create and maintain an inclusive collaborative network of partners for outdoor play.
To build knowledge and understanding of the benefits and barriers of outdoor play.
To develop and share practical tools and resources to promote, provide and facilitate outdoor play.
To advance policy/system-level change to strengthen support for outdoor play.
To re-establish habitual outdoor play as a cultural trademark for Canada.

Approach

The goals and activities of Outdoor Play Canada will:

Leverage collective strengths, expertise and reach
Represent diverse sectors and roles
Align “bottom-up and top-down” perspectives
Promote equity and access for all
Be attentive to outdoor play opportunities across the lifespan
Be action oriented
Celebrate successes

With support from the Lawson Foundation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Outdoor Play Canada was formed as a collaborative multi-sector network of researchers, practitioners, leaders, educators and advocates committed to increasing every child’s opportunity for outdoor play.

 

Through knowledge mobilization, we want to connect and align efforts by sharing resources, tools, training, research and stories. This hub is designed to be an evidence-informed ‘north star’ to support child-centred decision making in our communities and sectors.

 

Our founding partners include:

 

Back to Nature Network

BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit

Best Start Resource Centre, Health Nexus

Canadian Parks Council

Canadian Parks and Recreation Association

Canadian Public Health Association

Child and Nature Alliance of Canada

City of Calgary

Earth Day Canada

Evergreen

Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group

High Five

IPA – International Play Association Canada

KidActive

Lawson Foundation

Parachute

Parks & Recreation Ontario

ParticipACTION

UBC, School of Architecture and Landscape

Université de Québec

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We believe that outdoor play is key to every child’s physical, mental, emotional and social health and well-being.