Dignity of risk

I had a great opportunity last week to attend the 2017 Occupational Therapy Australia Conference in Perth.  There were many inspiring presentations as well as posters.  One of the most memorable was Professor Anita Bundy’s keynote address on the topic of Play and Inclusion.  She showed a video of a child who was marginalised, excluded from games being played in a standard school playground but when the playground was changed through using ‘loose parts’ (ie milk crates, tyres, pipes etc) he was fully engaged with the games and players.  This reinforced the message that the environment is central to play engagement – through equipment but also the philosophy of the supervising adults.  Research in schools in Sydney supported these findings.

Anita challenged us all to facilitate confidence, independence, joy, resilience and a sense of belonging in children through the medium of free play and  respecting the child’s ability and honouring the ‘dignity of risk’ – allowing exploration and challenges, and viewing play as a medium for growth.

As the slide said ‘Dignity of risk:

: The right to experience activities that contribute to self esteem AND entail risk

:  Duty of Care MUST be balanced by dignity of risk

Occupational therapists are uniquely placed to advocate for more accessible play, and more open policies toward play in schools, and in the community.