Click on the links below to learn more
We have created a movement of passionate individuals – from sectors that include health care, environmental education, play, sport, recreation and parks, child care, and early childhood development – who will work collaboratively towards the following vision:
All young children, 0-5 years old and their families in Alberta have the opportunity for active outdoor nature play that is safe, positive and engaging. Active outdoor nature play in the early years:
- Improves physical literacy and general health outcomes
- Builds a foundation of nature connection that develops life long environmental literacy and stewardship
- Connects young children and their families with their communities, contributing to family resilience and social connections.
Get Outside and Play Early Childhood Network focuses on three areas:
- Childcare. Children in childcare settings engage in more nature connection and outdoor play because supportive policy structures are in place and early childhood educators have the training to confidently create safe and engaging spaces for young children.
- Families and Communities. Children and families spend more time connecting with nature and participating in outdoor play because municipal leaders and planners create spaces that support nature connection and outdoor play.
- Get Outside and Play Week. An Alberta-wide celebration of outdoor nature play in early childhood. Childcare centres and families will directly experience the benefits of nature connection and outdoor play and will be provided with resources, skills and inspiration to continue to spend time outdoors in nature beyond Get Outside and Play Week.
Where did these strategies come from? We have convened 260 individuals in the past year and had conversation with key early childhood development leaders in Alberta, we listened to their ideas, and created a one page Theory of Change download here - it is an evolving document, and we'd love to hear your feedback.
This network was made possible by a generous grant from Alberta Culture and Tourism.
Members of the Initiative
There is no membership fee or commitment, anyone is welcome to sign up for out to the network! 386 people have engaged in the network with more joining all the time. Interested in learning more, sign up for our newsletter and receive information about upcoming events and opportunities or contact Christina.
What We Will do in 2017
Based on the conversation we have had in the past year and the funding we have received, the Get Outside and Play Network will focus on three areas in 2017:
- Professional learning for early childhood educators, visit this page to see the current workshops.
- Get Outside and Play Week May 27 - June 3, 2017
- Childcare regulation and policy
Stay tuned for more details on these initiatives, we will be asking for your suggestions, feedback and participation!
Get Outside and Play Week - May 27 to June 3, 2017
Get Outside and Play Week is an Alberta-wide celebration of outdoor nature play in early childhood. Use this week to jumpstart active outdoor nature play in your childcare centre, family and community. Register your activity and receive resources, inspiration and ideas to help you incorporate outdoor nature play into your life. More details will be posted soon.
Why outdoor nature play?
- Increased physical activity. Pre-schoolers spend twice as much time being active when play is outdoors.
- Connect with nature. Children who play outside and share their experiences with a caring adult develop into adults who participate in environmental stewardship.
- Meet your neighbours! Get outside in your community and connect with your neighbours and help create the safe play spaces children need right outside their front door.
Contact Christina if you want to learn more.
Thank you to Mountain Equipment Co-op for supporting this event.
Join our movement
We’ll update this page as the work proceeds; if you would like to be added to our email list, sign up here and receive updates on upcoming events and opportunities. Also feel free to contact Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For leading organizations and research on this topic, ACEE has created a section on our bookshelf to help you find this information to support your work.
Click here to see the current workshops being offered.
In 2016, we hosted the following workshops:
Edmonton April 8 - Network Event and Growing up Wild Workshop
Red Deer April 9 - Get Outside and Play - Physical Literacy and YOU!
Calgary April 21 - Natural Playgrounds and Network Event
Calgary May 5 and 6 - Introduction to Forest Schools and Risky Play
December 8, 2014 Calgary
Over fifty individuals from over 35 organizations met on December 8, 2014 for the first meeting of the Get Out and Play Network at Winsport.
April 15, 2015 Calgary
The attendees at this second Get Out and Play meeting spent time refining the goals of the network and also considered some ways to move forward.
December 1, 2015 Calgary and December 3, 2015 Edmonton
35 people gathered at Ralph Klein Park in Calgary and 30 people came together in Edmonton to begin building the network through conversations and commitments to action. In the morning we discussed the following questions:
- Why are you personally committed to getting more young children and their families outside to play?
- How might we work together to increase the number of young children getting outside to play?
In the afternoon, two facilitators from the North American Association for Environmental Education lead us through the Early Childhood Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence.
How we began: the genesis of Get Outside and Play
This initiative grew out of the Thrive By Five: Calgary Early Years Innovations Lab convened by the United Way of Calgary and the Alberta Government and supported by the Suncor Energy Foundation.
In 2014, Lori Gammell of Suncor and Jennifer Konopaki of Winsport investigated the role of nature based play for children aged 0-5, invited ACEE’s Gareth Thomson to join them, and went on to bring together organizations and individuals in the Calgary area with an interest in increasing nature based play for this age group and their families.
Since December 2014, Winsport has hosted two full day gatherings to explore the potential of developing a strong network of organizations and individuals interested in collaborating to advance this work.