Welcome to PLAYbynature’s new website! It’s been a busy 18 months of research and learning about play provision, both here and abroad; We’ve been talking with play experts and play advocates in London and Bristol, England, Copenhagen, Berlin, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, N.Y. We’ve visited play friendly schools, parks and playgrounds in all these places to see how play is being planned for, by the adults, for the children. In collaboration with POP UP Adventure Playgrounds, U.K. and their on-line training, we’ve been preparing our first program.
Over the last 6 months, PLAYbynature has grown by leaps and bounds, since teaming up with Andrea Dawber of GreenHere, an environmental charity in the Davenport neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. GreenHere has been working on urban greening and forestry projects for over a decade and children have been their natural allies. We have been adapting GreenHere’s successful community engagement model to support play, as well as tree planting. Andrea and I have made the rounds with parks and recreation experts here in Toronto and we’ve developed our thinking and our wishlist into a plan with programs!
- a series of POP UP Adventure Playgrounds starting this May, 2014!
- Walk and Talks planned to discuss parks improvements!
- a conference on Play and Risk in the works for 2015!
PLAYbynature is now a project of GreenHere, a big project too, as we hope you will discover as you flip through the website. We want nothing less than to put freely chosen self-directed play back into the culture of childhood in Toronto. We want Toronto to become a Child Friendly City.
But we also know that big change starts with small steps. We want to engage with communities, listen to parents’ concerns and work to make the changes sustainable. In the ecology of our rapidly growing city, we think that anything we do to increase children’s opportunities for play and recreation will have a positive impact on the whole community.
Putting our heads together to develop this blended program, we have been amazed to realize how much planning for play and planning for trees have in common!
It may surprise you to learn how much a child is like a tree! To begin with, both of them grow best outdoors! They both need extra loving care in the beginning to get their roots established, before extending up and out and changing everything around them as they grow! Both children and trees carry meaning for us, associated with expectancy and hope. Yet, both of them can be regarded as pests by some people, some of the time – messy, random and hard to control. It seems that children and trees, while natural playmates, also face many of the same barriers and opportunities to the full realization of their natures.
With 80% of the world’s children growing up in cities in the next millennium, planning and policy decisions must begin to include an informed understanding of play as integral to the health of children and families – the health of everyone really, but children lead the way.
At play, enjoying the outdoors in urban green spaces, children are the natural stewards of the urban parks and forests that are an integral part of the healthy city we are working to build.
If you would like to make a donation to the cost of mounting the POP UPS, click here.
If you would like to volunteer for the POP UPS and learn more about the playwork principles, click here.