At PLAYbynature, we feel strongly that children and their parents need help finding ways to increase playtime and improve play environments in their neighbourhoods. It really does take a village to raise a child and to make a play friendly neighbourhood!
Every good village is an ecosystem of people, young and old and objects, natural and man-made, that are in relationship, exchanging energy, making a place come alive with multiple systems overlapping, interacting, affecting each other and creating new unexpected wonders in the process.
The problem is – we have many deadened environments in our neighbourhoods that need planting, renewal, care and attention. They need play.
PLAYbynature has a two-pronged strategy:
- bring play programs into communities immediately as soon as possible, because children grow up fast!
- work to improve broad-based neighbourhood supports, because we want to increase community capacity to deliver play provision to many more children than we could possibly reach through our POP UP programs.
There are three components to the neighbourhood supports that make up a play friendly neighbourhood:
- play supervision that addresses safety concerns but also supports hours of freely chosen, self-directed play
- park, play ground and green space improvements that provide an interesting and varied environment for all sorts of play, and
- a supply of materials, equipment or “loose parts” to support the creative world-making that is essential to play.
We are developing programs to help communities improve each one of these components, improving the soil of everyday life in their neighbourhoods. That’s the idea – an ecosystem of possibilities, relationships, and moments – that renew themselves through the everyday actions of the children and the adults that surround them.
Our program will be launched through a series of POP UP Adventure Playgrounds in locations across Toronto where children, ages 5 – 15, will have all day to tinker with real wood and tools, invent their own games, build their own playgrounds! – with supervision based on playwork principles.
During the event, GreenHere will lead two Walk & Talks touring the surrounding green space to discuss opportunities for priority improvements that will encourage more play in the park. Most of our playgrounds provide very little of interest for the “older” child, ages 8 and up – exactly the demographic that is at risk for health, learning and behavioural problems. We want to encourage local parents and residents to think about play and what their children might need to support them in outdoor play in the park. And we want to help those communities get those changes as quickly as possible.
To learn more about our proposed programs, read about the upcoming POP UP Adventure Playgrounds, our green space improvement plans. Stay tuned for more information about the conference that is being planned.