Our walk in Pacific Spirit Park made me ponder about the loss outdoor recreation spaces. Population increase and city densification have inevitably resulted in more people moving into smaller living spaces. At the same time green space is disappearing due to the rising property values. The average home and yard size is decreasing and many families live in townhouses and apartments with no backyard and no parks for children to play in.
Risk and liability have played an increasing role in the decline of outdoor play. The fear of predators coupled with laws that prohibit children from going to public spaces without adult supervision have greatly restricted outdoor play in public areas. Children are increasingly living more sedentary lives by spending more time indoors playing video games and watching TV. It is no surprise that childhood obesity rates are at an all-time high.
How can we effectively balance risk management without becoming too conservative with our physical education activities?
Will focusing on risk avoidance result in the removal of valuable physical education activities from our school curriculum?
Will the endemic paranoia of litigation continue to intensify the epidemic of childhood obesity?
By focusing too much on planning school curriculum around the mitigation of every possible incident, lesson plans may become so limited that we remove all the value and enjoyment from the activities themselves. The increasing sedentary lifestyles by children are happening at the same time as institutions seek to stifle exploration and natural curiosity from outdoor activity. Risk and exploration are important parts of childhood experience. Through increasingly restrictive and preventative measures, we are prohibiting fun and health lifestyles in favor of restricted manageable risk-free indoor activities.