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How microbes can improve a child’s play, a two-day conference at OC
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College is hosting a two-day conference in Kelowna this week that will explore how exposing children to dirt and germs early on can actually benefit their well-being.

Dr. Brett Finlay Oct 2019The conference, hosted by the College’s Learning and Applied Research Department is taking place at the Kelowna campus on Nov. 1 and 2. Attendees will have a chance to collaborate, explore and participate in key discussions such as the relationship of outdoor play to children’s skills in coding, assessing outdoor play spaces for quality indicators and how outdoor play pedagogical documentation informs children’s play.

“This conference brings together city planners, landscape architects, early learning professionals, educators, parents and researchers to explore why outdoor play is vital for children’s development and how we can increase opportunities for children to have intriguing experiences that trigger their sense of curiosity and wonderment,” says Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College.

Workshop leaders include college and university researchers and professors, directors and early learning professionals. Terri-Lynn Russell, OC Instructor of Early Childhood Education will talk about How Pedagogical Choices Support Children’s Experimentation. Other workshop topics include A Shared Path: The Relationship Between Indigenous and the Land lead by Cathy Balatti, and Designing Natural Outdoor Play Spaces for Municipal Parks Systems lead by Fiona Barton and Dietze.

Friday night’s keynote speaker is Dr. Brett Finlay, co-author of Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Our Children from an Oversanitized World, and Peter Wall Distinguished Professor at UBC. Finlay has been studying microbes for over thirty years and has published over 450 articles.

“In the 150 years since we discovered that microbes cause infectious diseases, we’ve battled to keep them at bay,” writes Finlay. “But a recent explosion of scientific knowledge has led to undeniable evidence that early exposure to these organisms is beneficial to our children’s well-being.”

“It turns out that our current emphasis on hyper-cleanliness and poor diets are taking a toll on our children’s lifelong health.”

The two-day conference is sponsored in part by Okanagan College, New Monaco, Outland Design Landscape & Architecture and NSERC CRSNG.

Tickets range from $15 - $35 and can be purchased through

For more information on the workshops visit