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Canadian Public Health Association

The value of unstructured play

Vicki Hazelwood


Medicine Hat News


Imprimée/En ligne

Opportunity for children to engage in unstructured play has dramatically declined over the decades. Play can be seen as frivolous and unnecessary. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a perception in our culture that structured activities, such as organized sports and lessons, are more important to children’s development. Research shows that too many structured activities can contribute to increased anxiety and stress in children. Poor mental health has been linked to the decline in unstructured play opportunities and can lead to trouble forming and maintaining relationships with peers. The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) recently issued a Children’s Unstructured Play Position Statement (available at

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