Parachute Safe Kids Week took place May 30 to June 5, 2021 with the theme #PlaySafeOutdoors.

Safe Kids Week is an annual campaign to raise public awareness of child safety issues in Canada, encouraging community involvement as part of the solution. 

The topic of 2021’s Safe Kids Week digital campaign is outdoor play, encouraging children to #PlaySafeOutdoors and engage in active, unstructured and exciting play, daily.

With fewer than five per cent of children and fewer than one per cent of youth meeting movement behaviour guidelines during COVID-19 restrictions, outdoor play is more important than ever for kids. Parachute wants kids to #PlaySafeOutdoors to encourage mental, physical, social and emotional well-being.

Encourage your children to take part in outdoor, active and unstructured play

  • Unstructured play is child-led, letting children follow their own interests, get creative and have fun. Unstructured play encourages empathy, self-awareness and self-esteem, social and emotional learning, and team-work skills.
  • Unstructured play takes less planning and requires fewer resources than organized play, such as team sports. Encourage your children to spend time outdoors, doing activities they are most interested in, such as walking, wheeling or general exploration and play.

Don’t let fear stop you from letting your child benefit from outdoor play

  • Children are less likely to be injured during outdoor play than organized sports.

Know the difference between a hazard and a risk

  • A hazard is something dangerous that can cause serious injury, such as a broken railing or unsafe equipment. Help your child #PlaySafeOutdoors by managing hazards, while letting your child explore risk-taking, such as exploring the woods or climbing a high tree.
  • Match your supervision with the risk of the activity your child is engaging in and their capabilities. It’s important to supervise your child around potential hazards such as water, but less supervision may be needed when your child is exploring risks, such as playing in the sand or climbing.

Ask yourself, “what is one small thing I can do to encourage my child to increase their outdoor, active play time?

  • If your child isn’t interested in outdoor play, you can start with encouraging them to go with you to a nearby park or nature trail, or search for animal tracks or signs of summer.
  • Items that children can move around, such as rocks, wood, baskets, paintbrushes and water, a rope swing, buckets and sand can help your child use their imagination outdoors and make it fun.
  • Start small. Count to 17 next time you feel like saying “be careful”.
  • Your supervision may change from watching through a window, to checking-in from time to time, and giving your child more freedom as you are comfortable.