Our Beaumaris Pop-up Play Day on August 11th was an event that came to be thanks to Project:Play and YEG Inspired sharing a vision to promote opportunities for outdoor active play (what we like to call child-directed play) while bringing together communities.
The event showcased the creativity, joy, and ingenuity that children have when they are given the freedom to play using loose parts. Loose parts can be any materials that allow children to build, create, or manipulate. They can be everyday objects like pool noodles, plastic bowls, pine cones, paint, or wooden planks. The kiddos created whatever they wanted using what was available while working on their own or as a group to overcome the challenges that came with their creations. As we made our way through the play space the children and youth told us about the materials they had transformed: boxes into race cars, jets, business fronts; pool noodles into elaborately decorated staffs, water cannons, and nap forts! They even created and walked on slime. (Yes, slime. You should try it sometime!)
This type of play stimulates physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development. It is so beneficial to the healthy growth of children that it is a childhood right as stated by the United Nations, and a critical process recognized by ParticipACTION. Children are not only learning about themselves, but they are also learning about others, their community, their city, and the cultures that exist in each of these settings through their play experience.
Project:Play appreciates the beauty and amazing moments that came out of this event; They are invaluable and we believe there needs to be more spaces for this type of child-directed play, which is why we actively work to offer spaces for it. There are many barriers to independent children’s free play and events like this help to mitigate some of these barriers. If you are interested in reading more about these barriers, there is a link to a study conducted at the U of A regarding the topic (Determinants of Children’s Independent Active Free Play: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-015-0165-9).
Project:Play is an Edmonton-based business that provides unique child-directed play opportunities intended to empower children while bringing communities together. To learn more about events that are upcoming or to book your own event, connect with us on Facebook @2017projectplay or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.