Dr. Mariana Brussoni

Associate Professor – Department of Pediatrics and the School of Population and Public Health, UBC
Scientist – BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit
Director – Human Early Learning Partnership, UBC

March 2, 2022 11:35 am
Why outdoor risk play is critical in the early years - now more than ever

Research is clear on the importance of regular and repeated access to outdoor risky play. During the
COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of supporting children’s play outdoors is even more urgent to
support infection control and child health and well-being. With children spending more time indoors and
on screens, engagement in outdoor play has never been lower and inequities of access are widening.
This session will help you build the case about the need for outdoor risky play and get ideas to make
positive change in your work with children. Myths will be dispelled, truths revealed, and incredible
opportunities for children to have new experiences introduced. Learn the key concepts that support
outdoor play and how you can begin to incorporate these into your programs and plans. Lastly, hear
about tools and educational resources, and what different groups across Canada are doing to support
risky play.


Dr. Mariana Brussoni is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada. She is an investigator with the British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the British Columbia Injury Research & Prevention Unit. Mariana is a founding member and on the leadership group of Outdoor Play Canada.

Mariana completed her PhD in developmental psychologist at UBC in 2000. She joined the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit in 2001 as Associate Director. In 2004, Mariana went on to post-doctoral training at Birkbeck College (University of London), and the University of the West of England. In 2007, she returned to the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit and a faculty position at UBC. She started as director of HELP in August, 2021.

Mariana’s award-winning research investigates child injury prevention and children’s risky play, focusing on parent and caregiver perceptions of risk, and design of outdoor play-friendly environments – with a special focus on promoting equitable access to outdoor play. After years spent examining child injury statistics and researching injury prevention, Mariana became interested in the intersection between injury prevention, risk taking and outdoor play, concerned that well-meaning attempts to keep children safe were putting excessive limitations on children’s play despite the fact that serious injuries are rare. She partners with practitioners and policy makers in early childhood education, schooling, municipal planning and recreation provision, with the aim of creating environments where all children thrive in healthy societies. She has published her research extensively and has been widely featured in international media.

Mariana spends her free time playing outside with her family.