I enjoyed a childhood filled with days, evenings and weekends of active play. We’d walk or bike to and from school with friends; we’d play active games at recess and lunch; we’d hurry home after school to grab a quick snack before heading outdoors; and we’d eat dinner at top speed in order to get back outdoors as fast as we could. Weekends were much the same: play started early and finished late.
My earliest years were spent in Town of Mount Royal (Montreal) where kids of all ages played out on the street together; where parks were filled with families in the evenings and on weekends; and where the “Town” pool became a hang-out all summer long. We weren’t any less active in the winter: snowbanks piled high made for great forts; the local arena and other outdoor rinks (including many backyard rinks) meant an early introduction to skating, hockey and ringette; and toboganning (more than once, my Dad came home from work to find us toboganning down the front steps!) made winter FUN! We didn’t think of any of this play as “exercise”… who needed that?!
When we’d finally come in at night, tired from an amazing day of play and the promise of another, my mom would comment on the colour of the bathwater and replace the dirty bandaids on my knees and elbows with clean ones. I’d fall into bed, sometimes with aching legs, to dream about the games we’d invent next, about the caterpillars we’d collect in jars, about my goal of jumping off the “high” diving board at the pool (like my older sisters could), and about riding my bike… the one with the funky “banana seat”.
My kids haven’t experienced outdoor play in the same way — and though my mother acknowledges that my childhood was indeed very active — she tells me hers was still much more so. “Kids of all ages should have regular opportunities for active play, where they can let loose, explore, run, climb, crawl and play in parks with friends, like their parents once did. Active play is enjoyable, but it is also shown to improve a child’s motor function, creativity, decision-making, problem-solving and social skills,” says Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chief Scientific Officer, Active Healthy Kids Canada, and Director of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
Let’s pledge to keep active outdoor play alive and strong for our kids and the generations to come. Let’s learn the games our parents played and teach them — along with those we enjoyed — to our kids.
Kick The Can or Red Rover anyone?
Ambassador, Active Living