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Take it outside! Conference focuses on outdoor play
Okanagan College Media Release

Child’s play is serious work for a group of academics, professionals, and planners who will be gathering March 6 at Okanagan Beverlie Dietze Dec 2013College’s Vernon campus to consider the how and why of developing outdoor play spaces and why they are essential for children’s development and for building healthy, sustainable communities.

Shifting Views – Why Children Need Outdoor Play Now!” is a one-day conference being organized by Okanagan College’s Director of Learning and Teaching, Dr. Beverlie Dietze (who is also a principal researcher in outdoor play) and Jane Lister, the College’s North Okanagan Regional Dean. The conference is also being supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, which funded recent research involving Dietze, and the Kelowna-based Outland Design Landscape Architecture company.

“Recent research is really reinforcing how important outdoor play is to children’s development, especially at a time when so much of their activity is focused around electronic devices and digital interaction,” says Dietze. “Having the chance to connect to nature is about a lot more than just the experience of the outdoors. It impacts a whole range of behavior and early childhood development.”

Details of the conference speakers and sessions, as well as instructions on how to register can be found at www.okanagan.bc.ca/play.

The day-long, free conference features a number of experts and workshops. Two Nova Scotians will present the story of Nova Scotia’s Journey of Advancing Outdoor Play – Peter McCracken (who works with the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness) and Laura MacPherson (who works in the same department and also sits on the ParticipACTION’s National Active Play committee.)

Dr. Mariana Brussoni, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia will examine the need for children to have play environments that allow them to take a variety of risks in their outdoor play.  

Dietze will present an overview of the current research in the area of outdoor children’s play and how the research should influence public policy, community development, and how it ties into the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child.

Fiona Barton, the principal in Outland Design Landscape Architecture, will focus on how important it is for landscape architects to create nurturing outdoor spaces for children. She’ll highlight some new outdoor play designs that incorporate natural materials into play space. 

Dr. Diane Kashin, a registered early childhood educator and College professor, will present a session called Cultivating Children’s Identities Through Outdoor Play.