Are we doing it all wrong? Physical activity, risk and resilience

Each year more Canadian children are injured falling out of their beds than falling out of a tree yet there is no outcry to ban bedroom furniture. With few exceptions, our communities are safer than ever before but children are cocooned indoors, over-programmed and left with no time for free play and discovery. In one generation we have managed to eliminate the ability for children to negotiate their environment, make mistakes, learn, and develop lifelong skills including, perhaps most imperative: resilience. The outcome of this approach is nothing short of catastrophic from a health perspective, but not irreversible. There is a growing movement to bring the natural environment, play, and risk back to children. The recently developed concept of "risky play" identifies key elements in building resilience through physical activity. Risky play is defined as thrilling and exciting play that can include the possibility of physical injury. This begs the question: how can physical activity promoters integrate risky play in the same public health space as injury prevention efforts to eliminate preventable injuries?

Does this swing the pendulum too far for today's social comfort? What can we learn from this approach and what do we have to lose if we ignore it?

By the end of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Redefine risk generally
  • Define Risky Play
  • Articulate the value of including risky play elements in physical activity promotion


Brandy Tanenbaum, Program Coordinator, RBC First Office for Injury Prevention, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Brandy has a passion for driving community health through sport and physical activity. She has more than 20 years of experience working at local and provincial levels in sport and recreation with a consistent focus on creating safe and healthy experiences. Since 2009, as a program coordinator at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Brandy co-leads Play Safe - a national collaborative aiming to reduce injury in physical activity through research and innovation. Brandy is a certified risk manager and has a Masters degree in Public Health. Away from work she has a busy family life with two young boys who regularly challenge every risk management principle and injury prevention technique - but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Note: This webinar was originally delivered and recorded through the Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC) on June 22, 2016.