Category Archives: Play


Healthy Risks of Play


In this day and age, the dangerous risks of play seem to outweigh the healthy risks of play. There is a growing concern that a “policy of fear” has reshaped how children play to an extent that they are missing out on vital learning. For whatever the reason may be, fear of injury, fear of lawsuits, budget restraints,  outdoor play has been either reduced or controlled to such an extent that there is worry children are missing out on good opportunities to learn firsthand values such as resilience.

When I was in elementary school, I remember getting some of my first real scrapes and bruises from outdoor play activities. It was one of my first times riding a bike down a hill, and in a nervous fret I tumbled to the pavement, suffering big cuts and bruises along my forearms and legs. I was hurt and afraid to go to school the next day with all of my peers around me. Amid my crying and self-pity, the adult who was with me said quite simply that I don’t need to cry, accidents happen and my injuries would heal with time. Besides, he added that I had earned my first “strawberries” referring to the gashes on my forearms and that they were cool. Even though I was still hurt, I went to my next schoolday with some confident butterflies in my stomach and explaining how I got my “strawberries” with a smile on my face. There were a lot of oohs and aahs, but for most part my peers were more curious than anything, even sharing some of their own stories. I made out ok with my classmates, and within a few weeks the scabs had completely healed.

Now the moral of this story isn’t necessarily to make injuries cool or label them something like “strawberries”, but rather to instill confidence, learn from mistakes, rise from a fall and confront the challenges ahead of you or other children. Outdoor play offers a natural way to learn about ourselves, gain values and build character through invaluable experiences. The UK-based founder of Outdoor Play and Learning (Opal) Michael Follett believes that children learn through “primary, first hand experience,” and that, ” They need to fall over, they need to cut themselves, have bumps and bruises.”

Creativity, self-reliance, courage and resilience are just some of the values and healthy risks of play. Even though injuries do happen, not all are negative and can be productive for teaching lessons and developing children. That being said, it is important to reduce some risks, such as ensuring children at play apply enough sunscreen, stay hydrated, take breaks and dress appropriately for the outdoors. Once they are prepared, it is important to let them explore finally all on their own. Allowing children to play at their own risk allows them a window of independence, builds trust and opens new doors of creative opportunity and experience that can be valuable for the rest of their lives.



Kobe Bryant Needs You to Get Active on Olympic Day


There are many different views on NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, but one thing that has never been disputed is his dedication and work ethic to physical fitness for the betterment of his basketball aspirations. Bryant, a 2-time gold medalist for US men’s basketball team and avid supporter of the Olympics, has joined forces with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to promote a worldwide get-active campaign. He recently posted a video calling on people everywhere to celebrate Olympic Day by lacing up running shoes and doing any physical exercise they desire.  Bryant however, is unable to participate in Olympic Day due to a tear of his Achilles tendon shortly before the start of the NBA playoffs, and is asking the rest of the world to put in some extra effort for his sake.

“I can’t run, I can’t jump and I can’t swim yet, so I need you guys to pick up the slack for me and be doubly active.”

Olympic Day, which is June 23rd, was introduced in 1948 to commemorate the inauguration of the modern day Olympics Games that was on June 23rd, 1894 in Sorbonne, Paris. The idea was to promote sport and physical activity across borders, cultures, genders and athletic ability. Recently, particularly over the past 20 years, Olympic Day has grown to include runs, educational and cultural activities across the globe. Based on three pillars of “move”, “learn”, and “discover”, National Olympic Committees (NOC) have sprouted internationally organizing these Olympic Day events, often engaging with children, young people and athletes to develop websites and programs accessible to people at a local level.

Even if you are not close to an organized NOC activity, the IOC hopes you will take the time to get active and promote the cause on social media to join  the worldwide campaign. If you upload a photo of yourself participating on Olympic Day, and whoever uploads the best photo wins a trip to attend the inauguration of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland in October. These are fun extra incentives, but the driving point remains getting yourself active, outdoors and having fun. Although Kobe Bryant  needs you to get active on Olympic Day, just remember “all you need is YOU to get active on Olympic Day”.


Why Outdoor Play Benefits Kids


There are no mysteries surrounding why outdoor play benefits kids. We know this because the outdoors continues to play a role in our lives not much different from the time we were kids. On bright sunny days, outdoor play is enticing. People go bike riding, lounge in the parks, run around and enjoy the fresh air. Adults may not go outside to play tag and climb trees like kids  (not that this should stop you) but the positive vibes and liberating feeling the outdoors offers us encourages an inherently active lifestyle.

The outdoors quite simply, is fun and exciting for children. In an interesting survey conducted by the large UK store chain Sainsbury’s, 1,500 children between the ages of five and eleven were asked about their preferred summer activities in order of preference. The results showed that the kids vastly preferred outdoor play, including playing in the park or in the garden as their favorite pastime. The first paid activity according to the results was going to the movie theatre, which came in at number 12 on the list.

Playing outside may not be every child’s preference, and certainly we all enjoy our time indoors as well. However, spending some time and energy outside has shown to make a significantly positive impact on a child’s health. Aside from the increase in physical activity, play and recess-like activities have been linked to healthy bodily functions such as eyesight. According to a recent article describing the results of a study published in journal Ophthalmology, kids who play outside are less likely to develop myopia, or near-sightedness, over time. The study is part of an ongoing worldwide myopic research boom over the past decade, studying the large increase in the disorder over the second half of the 21st century.

As an organization, Sports for Sharing feels strongly about the many benefits of play and recess. After all,  outdoor play is especially fundamental to our program’s success in helping children become better citizens and change agents. It is integral because the outdoors and playing feature a near universally shared positive experience. The outdoors offers kids and adults alike the freedom to learn from each other, work together, play together, be active and healthy together. It is good to see play and recess, after years of erosion from schools, start to  grow back into school time. Especially since outdoor play has even been found to positively affect child behavior in schools. We encourage recess and celebrate actions to encourage outdoor play, as two area state parks did as part of National Kids to Parks Day.

We know outdoor play benefits kids in so many ways, it’s important to encourage it as much as possible. And while we’re at it, take a moment a moment to step outside and enjoy the fresh air ourselves, what is there to lose?

(Photo: The Image Bank/Getty Images)