Outdoor Play

Our Outdoor Play Strategy is built on the scientific evidence base that establishes outdoor play, with its risks, as essential to healthy child development.

While play may be perceived as simply fun for kids, it is a whole lot more. Outdoor play supports multiple developmental benefits: healthier, more active children; self-regulation and resilience; social skills through interacting and negotiating with others; and, learning through play. Given the critical importance to development, children from all social, ethnic and economic backgrounds require play-rich opportunities in the outdoors.

But children’s experiences in the world are increasingly structured, technology-based, and divorced from nature. We are missing a healthy balance between letting kids explore and take risks and taking reasonable measures to keep them safe. A growing outdoor play sector in Canada seeks to increase opportunities for outdoor play in all settings. We have learned the importance of working with multiple sectors and stakeholders in order to create opportunities for outdoor play in distinct settings. As we move forward, we are focusing our multi-sector approach to benefit children’s outdoor play in early childhood education programs. Through our funding, we support adult education, training, and policy development to increase children’s opportunities for outdoor play. We convene our grantees to support sharing and learning, and we use robust evaluation and knowledge mobilization to measure and leverage our results.

Outdoor Play Strategy: A Phased Approach

Phase 1 (2013-2019)
Exploring outdoor play as an essential element to supporting the healthy development of children and youth.

Phase 1.5 (2018-2020) 

Exploring a focus on early childhood education. 

Phase 2 (2021-2023)
Building adult capacity in Early Learning and Child Care
Details of the Outdoor Play Strategy 2.0 will be announced in 2021.

Understand our Impact

Coming Soon.

Have an idea?

We are always interested in hearing about new ideas. If you have carefully read our Strategic Direction and believe that your work is closely aligned to it, we invite you to put your innovative ideas forward for potential funding support via our Ideas Portal.

Related News and Updates

Outdoor Play Strategy | First Phase Evaluation

Outdoor Play Strategy | First Phase Evaluation

The Lawson Foundation’s Outdoor Play Strategy is an integral part of our overall strategic direction. It is driving our comprehensive approach to exploring how outdoor play supports the healthy development of children and youth in communities across Canada.  Our...

Reflections on outdoor play in Canada from across the pond

Reflections on outdoor play in Canada from across the pond

In October 2018, the Lawson Foundation invited Henry Mathias, Head of Professional Practice and Standards with the Care Inspectorate in Scotland to give the keynote address at its Outdoor Play and Early Learning Policy Research Symposium. Henry shared Scotland’s...

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