Inclusive Nature Play Day

There is well established evidence that time spent in nature is beneficial for children. According to the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), time spent in nature can improve children’s psychological functioning, attention, vision, and physical health, as well as promote healing and recovery after injury or illness (NEEF, 2020). Occupational therapy practitioners (OTPs) play a role in promoting outdoor play, as play is the most important occupation of childhood, and the main purpose of OT is helping clients, groups, and populations to achieve health, well-being, and participation in life through engagement in occupation (American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA], 2020).

In an effort to support outdoor play for the children of the Valparaiso Community, Valparaiso University Program in Occupational Therapy will host an Inclusive Nature Play Day on June 7, 2023 in collaboration with the Indiana Children and Nature Network (ICAN). ICAN’s mission is to foster the connection of children, families, and communities to the natural environment so that they can receive the physical, emotional and intellectual benefits of spending time outdoor, while building a lifelong love of nature. Valparaiso University has a beautiful campus that provides a variety of opportunities for individuals to interact with the benefits of nature.

Our Inclusive Nature Play Day will take place on June 7 at 10:00am on West Lawn outside of Harre Union. Activities will include a nature hike and scavenger hunt on Valparaiso University’s Campus and a nature-themed story time and craft. We invite children of all abilities to participate in our play day activities and plan to provide accommodations such as a wheelchair and stroller accessible nature walk, sensory break area, and activity adaptations to allow children of all ability to actively participate.

The event is free, but we do encourage participants to register so we can plan for the appropriate number of participants and prepare needed accessibility accommodations. The registration form can be found at this link:

Questions about the event can be sent to Theresa Carroll,

Learn more about the Indiana Children and Nature Network at

American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA]. (2020). Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process—Fourth Edition. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(Supplement_2), 7412410010p1-7412410010p87.

National Environmental Education Foundation [NEEF]. (2020). Children’s health and nature fact sheet.

Theresa Carlson Carroll, OTD, OTR/L, CLA