The Power of Play

The ‘Power of Play’ highlights the many important benefits of just playing around.

The Power of Play, a documentary episode on CBC Nature of Things (, puts forward fascinating scientific evidence that all animals play and the critical importance of play for healthy development and survival. In children, research is mounting on the many aspects of development that are affected by play, including the brain, the socio-emotional learning, mental health, physical development, and resilience. The documentary highlights changing childhoods, where opportunities for outdoor play and risk taking have gone down. Outdoor risky play lets kids explore the world on their own terms and test their limits in freer and positive environments, which is one of the best things we can do to keep them safe.

The Power of Play features Dr. Mariana Brussoni, a developmental psychologist at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Pediatrics and School of Population and Public Health, and the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Brussoni and her research team focus on child injury prevention and risky play. Dr. Brussoni’s Playability study – highlighted in the Power of Play – examines how children use their neighbourhoods for play in order to develop a ‘Playability’ index to assess how playable a neighbourhood is for children’s outdoor play, and how best to design for play-friendly neighbourhoods.

In the documentary, Dr. Brussoni discusses common parental fears that limit children’s opportunities for play. Her Go Play Outside! study addresses these fears, providing a tool for parents,, to reframe their perceptions of risk and change parenting behaviours. Parents are taken through a journey featuring a series of tasks carefully designed to coach them to reflect on their attitudes and fears to develop a personalised action plan for making changes to their parenting/caregiving approach. A recently completed randomized controlled trial study confirmed the effectiveness of the tool in changing mothers’ perceptions and parenting behaviours.

For more information on Dr. Brussoni’s research: