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Risk Awareness and Assessment Guidelines

Risk - the experience and management of it - is an inherent and integral part of Forest and Nature Programs, and indeed of healthy child development. Encountering and managing risk may include walking through woodlands, trails and different terrains, negotiating mud, water experiences (wetlands, pond and river), playing on logs and with sticks, climbing trees etc. Educators and other adults work to co-assess and co-manage risk with participants. Educators conduct daily and seasonal site risk assessments, as well as activity risk assessments and individual risk assessments (See Appendices below) on an ongoing basis, always considering the balance between risks and benefits when doing so.

The FNP is included in the Humber Arboretum’s Risk Management Register, a tool that is used to identify and mitigate risk and reviewed annually.

A SITE risk assessment is undertaken each week and a DAILY risk assessment and check is made prior to every Forest Nature Program session at the forest site.

In addition, an ACTIVITY risk assessment will be established prior to any activity that may require it. These will include: whittling, cutting wood, shelter building, fire lighting and cooking on an open fire, palm drilling and other tool use, visiting the wetlands, pond and river.

Specific additional risk assessments will be undertaken for children whose medical condition or whose behaviour requires them.

The risk assessment process is detailed below:

  • We look for potential hazards.
  • We decide who might be at harm.
  • We think about how harm may occur and the worst outcome that we could face.
  • We evaluate the current level of risk.
  • We decide on a course of action or set of precautions that will be put in place to minimize the potential risk.
  • We then re-evaluate the level of risk once our course of action and precautions have been put in place.
  • We create a risk assessment and collate them in the Forest School file.
  • We inform all adults with accompanying the group and require them to sign each relevant risk assessment to show that they have read and understood the assessments.
  • We regularly monitor and review each risk assessment, quarterly or as needed and as an action is needed. In addition, Humber Arboretum staff also conduct regular risk assessments.

Other considerations:

  • Boundaries are discussed and marked as needed
  • Long sticks are taught to be dragged behind and kept low
  • All living things (trees, plants, bugs) are to be protected

Call backs to gather children: “chickadee dee dee, come back to me”, “Come Follow, Follow, Follow” song.