LETHBRIDGE - The days of climbing trees (and sometimes falling out of them), playing hide and go seek, and riding bikes with friends all day long are foreign to many children nowadays, according to a presentation by the Lethbridge Early Years Coalition Coordinator.
At Monday's meeting Vicki Hazelwood presented something called a 'Play Charter' to council; a document that outlines a commitment by the city and various local organizations to support play that encourages physical, emotional and social development, to embrace the climate and geography of Lethbridge by supporting play year round, to educate the community as a whole about the value of play, and to encourage risky play as a way to promote healthy risk-taking skills.
"In our society, we're sort of seeing a shift where parents are bubble wrapping kids and protecting them from health risks such as climbing...There's health risk and there's hazardous risk. And we want to see more of the healthy risk happening in our community."
Hazelwood says Lethbridge has some great facilities, a natural 'play area' in the river valley, lots of parks and some new playgrounds that children and their parents can take advantage of year-round. She hopes that with encouragement from the city, from educators and various community groups, there will be a shift in mindsets about getting youth outside more, and off their electronic devices.
Jeff Carlson says it was extremely important for council to adopt the charter.
"It really supports a lot in our strategic plan about liveable cities, active cities, and a health community. So, there's a lot in it that supports what council is trying to do over the next...three years."
He added that the charter also supports a lot of what the parks, recreation and culture departments have been doing over the last few years in their master plans.
And Hazelwood was delighted that not only was the charter accepted, but that Mayor Chris Spearman would be officially signing the charter on National Child Day Nov. 20.
"We're thrilled that the vote was unanimous and that everyone voted in favour. I think play sells itself, the value of it. And as we think back to our childhood, it's hard not to see the value of play."
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