Our playgrounds used to be our entire neighbourhood. Just be home before dark was our only instruction. Our afternoons and evenings were filled with freedom and fun. You jumped off the school bus, dropped your backpack, and ran off to find your friends. We roamed the back woods, played a game of hide-n-seek, chased the friendly, neighbourhood cat for a while, and we’d still be home in time for dinner and homework. Depending on the season, you’d might still have time to rush back out to the playground before it got dark.
Now, those backwoods have been developed into new homes. Video games take up hours of time. Our friends are no longer necessarily living in our own communities. Times have just changed. We lack outdoor time, even our physical activities take place indoors. If you’re lucky, you may have a community playground, but maybe not if you’re in an isolated or rural area. Our closet park is over 7 kilometers away and this is within city limits. That’s well over an hour on foot! Not even on the best of days would I have been allowed to wander that far away from home.
We need a return to prioritizing outdoor play. It should be mandatory to have a playground in every newly development subdivision! We may be a bit biased here at Dynamo Playgrounds, but shouldn’t we be putting more value on outdoor play in a world of indoor lifestyles?
It’s widely documented that children who experience daily outdoor play benefit in beautiful ways. They get to build problem-solving abilities and learn to think critically. They get to collaborate with other children and enhance their social skills. They get sensory play, fresh air, and exercise! It’s even been proven that as little as 20 minutes of outdoor time each day can promote better behaviour and concentration. That should be enough for teachers every to be advocating for great playgrounds!
Outdoors adventures are full of creativity and imagination. We aren’t all fortunate enough to have fancy play gear in our backyards or access to gym facilities. We can’t always just signup for organized sports or music lessons. Our communities and leaders need to prioritize play in ways that are equitable and accessible to all children. Bring back the neighbourhood playgrounds, bring back the joy of unscheduled play, and bring back the comfort of knowing that our children are growing up beyond the screens and technology of today.
When we prioritize outdoor play, we prioritize our communities, our health and wellbeing, and most of all, our children.