What every child should do before the age of 12

ParticipACTION encourages families to clear their schedules, get outside and play

ParticipACTION encourages families to clear their schedules, get outside and play.  With only seven per cent of kids aged five to 11 meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, a finding from this year’s Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card, ParticipACTION is encouraging families to bring more spontaneous, unstructured activity into their lives.

The ParticipACTION Play List includes 24 things every Canadian child should do before the age of 12:

1. Experience total weightlessness at the top of a swing

2. Skip stones across water

3. Play leap frog

4. Hang upside down from a tree limb

5. Jump into water cold enough that it almost takes their breath away

6. Throw rocks or snowballs at a post from a distance until they get a bulls eye

7. Ride a bike with no hands

8. Paddle a canoe

9. Piggyback someone

10. Roll down a big hill

11. Try a sport that requires a helmet

12. Collect something in a forest

13. Make up a dance routine

14. Slide down something on a piece of cardboard

15. Build a fort

16. Hike somewhere for a picnic

17. Bury someone they love in the sand

18. Play outside in the rain

19. Jump in a pile of leaves

20. Make a snow angel

21. Fly a kite

22. Create an obstacle course

23. Swim in a lake or an ocean

24. Make up a game involving a ball

“Active, outdoor play is an essential part of every Canadian childhood,” says Elio Antunes, President and CEO of ParticipACTION, the national voice of physical activity and sport participation. “As the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card reminds us, all kids need regular opportunities to let loose, run around, make mistakes and make their own fun.  The Longest Day of Play reminds us that an active childhood includes freedom to play.”

Supporting and encouraging opportunities for active, unstructured play, especially outdoors, may be one of the most promising, accessible and cost-effective solutions to increasing child and youth physical activity in Canada.  Active play offers cognitive, emotional and social development benefits. It has also been shown to improve and foster motor function, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving skills, the ability to control emotions and social skills such as taking turns and helping others.

Visit the ParticipACTION website for more information on Longest Day of Play and to download the ParticipACTION Play List.