Mission: Facilitate, promote and protect children’s outdoor free play as a fundamental right in the city
Tagline: Facilitate, promote, protect : outdoor free play in the city
Vision: Outdoor free play for every Montreal child every day.
Values: Respect, empowerment, accessibility
- Facilitate play opportunities that serve as a real-life example of outdoor free play in the city and compensate children for a lack of play elsewhere. This includes operating an independent outdoor free play site in the Champ des Possibles where our team can develop, implement and share best practices for play facilitation
- Promote a culture of play in public spaces and institutions by raising awareness amongst adults
- Protect children’s outdoor free play by advocating for change to systems or policies that present barriers to it
Child-centered. Children are the experts of their own play. However, they have little control over the conditions necessary to their play, including their access to outdoor spaces and their freedom within them. Starting from a rooted understanding of how children and their families experience outdoor free play in the city, we see the current play deficit as the result of societal norms and expectations for children’s behavior and time, determined collectively by adults, and not a lack of will from children and their allies. Children are working hard every day to scrape out moments of play whenever and wherever they can, moments that are unique to each child and each situation.
Rights-based. Play is a right for all children enshrined in Article 31 of the UN Convention on The Rights of the Child. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2013, p.8), affirms that it enriches the lives of children and is fundamental to the quality of childhood, to children’s entitlement to optimum development, to the promotion of resilience and to the realisation of other rights. As adults, we cannot provide play, only the necessary conditions for it. At The Lion and The Mouse, we work specifically to support outdoor free play because without freedom or access to the outdoors and nature the right to play cannot be fully realized.
The following list from the International Play Association outlines the necessary conditions for play we work in support of so that every child in Montreal can play every day.
• Freedom from stress
• Freedom from social exclusion, prejudice or discrimination
• An environment secure from social harm or violence
• An environment sufficiently free from waste, pollution, traffic and other physical hazards to allow them to circulate freely and safely within their local neighbourhood
• Availability of leisure time, free from other demands
• Accessible space and time for play, free from adult control and management
• Space and opportunities to play outdoors unaccompanied in a diverse and challenging physical environment, with easy access to supportive adults, when necessary
• Opportunities to experience, interact with and play in natural environments and the animal world
• Opportunities to invest in their own space and time so as to create and transform their world, using their imagination and languages
• Opportunities to participate with other children, supported, where necessary, by trained facilitators or coaches
• Recognition by parents, teachers and society as a whole of the value and legitimacy of the rights provided for in article 31. (Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2013:10-11).