Get out and play, kids!
In fact Earth Day Canada is asking everyone to #EarthPLAY for Earth Day, April 22, this year. Its new EarthPLAY program is dedicated to putting outdoor play back into childhood.
April is Earth Month and the annual campaign has launched with a #Pledge4PLAY crowdfunding platform, a share your #PLAYmemory social media campaign, a school-based enriched recess campaign, Earth Week events, free tool kits, and support from David Suzuki, Ken Dryden, Elizabeth May, and Raffi!
We’re all being asked to support better outdoor play in our parks, schools and on neighbourhood streets.
There’s a good reason, too. According to recent data, most children get outside for less than an hour each day. This is having a negative impact on their health and well being.
“Outdoor, unstructured free play has been disappearing from childhood for the last several decades,” says Deb Doncaster, president of Earth Day Canada. “This is largely due to a lack of stimulating, accessible play spaces, coupled with unnecessary aversion to risk and a narrow concept of education. If the next generation is stuck indoors, how can we expect them to be connected to their communities and motivated to protect the environment?”
The cornerstone of this year’s campaign is the #Pledge4PLAY crowdfunding platform, running April 1st to 30th at earthday.ca. Those who donate receive various perks and chances to win a range of prizes, with donations of $100 or more securing additional entries into a draw for the grand prize: A trip for four to the world-renowned Berkeley Marina Adventure Playground in California, courtesy of the Air Canada Foundation.
A social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter encourages people to share their favourite #PLAYmemory from when they were young; participants include celebrities such as four-time Olympian Silken Laumann, star of hit TV series Survivorman Les Stroud, and children’s singer/songwriter Raffi. In addition, renowned environmentalist David Suzuki and Leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May have recorded special video messages to share.
Earth Day Canada has created free tool kits for those who wish to #EarthPLAY and for schools who are invited to demonstrate their support of enriched outdoor play by committing to host an extra or extended recess or even a full day of adventure play during Earth Week.
EarthPlay for Schools
Between April 1 and 22, schools are encouraged to register an EarthPLAY event and then hold the celebration during Earth Week, April 17 to 21. Participating schools then send in a photo or video of the event to be entered into a prize draw. See earthday.ca for registration and details. Since Earth Day, April 22, falls on a Saturday this year, it’s a good chance for parents and kids to get outside together and, well, play. ◆