IPA Canada


International Play Association (Canada)
"Promoting the Child's Right to Play"

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Canadian Municipality Play Survey

Thank you for agreeing to provide information regarding how you and your municipality are delivering play opportunities for children and youth.
IPA Canada promotes the child's right to play, and recognizes that the municipal system is one avenue to develop and deliver play opportunities at the local level. And we know that this revolution has already begun.
This survey is designed to establish what is happening already in municipalities across Canada: what innovative approaches are being tried, what 'best practices' can be identified.
The survey is also structured to serve as an informational and educational tool for municipal employees. There are a series of clickable links which will give you access to more information. By clicking on the hyperlink in the survey, you will be taken to another page in your browser where further information is available. In addition, those information sheets are available to download from this website. See the links to the various pdf files at the bottom of this section.

To begin the survey, click here. More information on play can be found below.

What do we mean by 'play'?
Play is what children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way and for their own reasons.
'Play' includes activities of children that are not controlled by adults and that do not necessarily conform to any rules.
This is unstructured or spontaneous or free play, and needs to be differentiated from structured play, where adults structure the activity for children, such as organized recreational and learning activities, organized sport, etc.
We do not believe that children have somehow lost their interest in play, but that the infrastructure that supports play has faded away, and needs to be rebuilt within a 21st century context. That infrastructure has five elements: Programs, People, Places, Policies and Practices, and Partnerships. The survey is structured around those themes.

Some Background

Over the past three decades, the amount of time that children spend outside and 'playing' with their friends has massively diminished. Children's ability to 'range' (travel on their own from their home) has also massively diminished. The reasons for this change are many, and their interplay is complex – there is no one simple cause. However the impacts on children's health – such as increasing levels of obesity and mental health issues are well documented in both academic journals and the media. Indeed the media have invented various terms which are synonymous with this problem – cotton-wool kids, helicopter parenting, nature deficit disorder to name just a few.

For municipal recreation and parks departments and professionals, the rise in the amount of children's programming, both direct and through sport and other organizations, has been good business. The increased focus on quality of life, active living and the other benefits of recreation has enhanced our credibility and professional status. But are those children living healthier lives? The aggregate evidence related to all children seems to suggest the reverse.

Recent initiatives in North America, such as the work of Richard Louv about children and nature, has certainly touched a nerve in many adults. New organizations have been formed and CPRA and its provincial/territorial partners have started to consider how they can respond. The issues of children and play were significant themes that ran through the October 2011 National Recreation Summit.

European countries have a different culture and urban context to much of Canada, but there has been a significantly greater focus on children's play. Countries such as Wales and England have developed national play strategies (as have other European countries), with significant funding for research, training and action projects. Much has focused on municipal action with parks and recreation departments taking the lead.

The following pdf files are the survey information sheets. Please feel free to download these documents by clicking on them.