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New free website created for B.C. families to get kids learning outside

The online tool encourages kids to partake in 'risky' play.
The tool is aimed at teachers who aren't sure where to start when it comes to learning outside.

Even though the weather has shifted to fall in B.C., children still need outdoor play.

BC Children’s Hospital is hoping to make the transition to children playing outside in the colder months easier and has launched a new website to help parents, caregivers and educators. 

The new online tool is designed for outdoor play and learning in elementary schools from kindergarten through Grade 7.

Just 37 per cent of children play outside every day, according to the researchers who created the website. 

Dr. Mariana Brussoni, the head of the Play Outside Lab at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute and UBC, says kids are more physically active outside than inside.

"This has implications for immediate and lifelong health,” says Brussoni.

The tool was developed by Brussoni and long-time outdoor teacher Megan Zeni.

“Teachers may like the idea of outdoor learning but may not know where to start,” said Zeni. “With the help of practical videos, the tool provides concrete advice about navigating barriers, preparing for all-weather learning, making activities accessible to all and teaching various subjects outdoors.”

Brussoni encourages ‘risky play’ which allows children to explore risks and push themselves beyond their usual limits, such as climbing higher or chasing faster.

“There’s an abundance of research about how important being outdoors is for mental health,” says Brussoni. “Gains include risk-management skills along with the development of resilience and self-confidence.”

The website is free and took years of research, interviews, focus groups and surveys to put together.