About Us

Play Outside NS is brought to you by the PLEY (Physical Literacy and the Early Years) Project. Our focus is to promote physical literacy and the development of fundamental movement skills through sharing our research through events and online resources. We hope that this will become a resource for parents, educators, health professionals and sport coaches.


Dr. Michelle Stone

Dr. Michelle Stone is an Assistant Professor in Pediatric Physical Activity and Health at Dalhousie University, and an Associate Research Scholar in the Healthy Populations Institute. She also holds a Scientific Staff Appointment at the IWK Health Centre. Her research focuses on enhancing children’s opportunities for physical activity, physical literacy and active outdoor play. She co-lead the Physical Literacy in the Early Years (PLEY) project with Dr. Sara Kirk.
Email: michelle.stone@dal.ca Twitter: @DrMichelleStone

Dr. Sara Kirk

Dr. Sara Kirk is a Professor of Health Promotion and the Scientific Director of the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University. She also holds cross-appointments with Community Health and Epidemiology and Mount Saint Vincent University. Her program of research explores the creation of supportive environments for chronic disease prevention. She co-lead the PLEY project with Dr. Stone, and is leading a five year multi-sectoral partnership project, UpLift. This is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and private sector donations, which has engaged a range of partners across Nova Scotia to support child and youth health and learning.
Email: sara.kirk@dal.ca
Twitter: @sflkirk

Dr. Angela Kolen

Dr. Angela Kolen is a Professor in Human Kinetics at St. Francis Xavier University with expertise in the growth and development of children in relationship to movement, particularly in the early years.
Email: akolen@stfx.ca
Twitter: @AngieKolen

Dr. Laurene Rehman

Dr. Daniel Rainham

Dr. Daniel Stevens

Daniel is a child health researcher in the School of Health and Human Performance and cross appointed with the Department of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University. He is also affiliated with the IWK Health Centre as a research scientist. Daniel’s goal is to make children healthier and happier through physical activity (play) and exercise.
Email: d.stevens@dal.ca

Dr. Joan Turner

Dr. Joan Turner is a Professor of Child and Youth Study (Mount Saint Vincent University) and a Certified Child Life Specialist, with expertise in child health and early childhood settings. Dr. Turner approaches work and research with children from a strengths-based approach, acknowledging the capacity of young children as active contributors to the research process.
Website: Joan Turner
Email: joan.turner@msvu.ca
Twitter: @JoanTurnerMSVU

Dr. Jessie-Lee McIsaac

Dr. Jessie-Lee McIsaac is a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Early Childhood: Diversity and Transition. Her research is identifying ways to enhance well-being during early childhood by ensuring policy and practice supports marginalized families in early learning environments.
Email: jessie-lee.mcisaac@msvu.ca
Twitter: @jlmcisaac
Research Twitter: @eccrc_msvu

Dr. Becky Spencer

Dr. Becky Spencer is an Instructor in Health Promotion at Dalhousie University, with an interdisciplinary PhD. She has experience in engaging youth in health research through creative and participatory methodologies, and in mixed-methods school-based physical activity research interventions.
Email: becky.spencer@dal.ca

Twitter: @SpencerBeckyAnn

Project Coordinators

Jane Cawley

Jane Cawley is an early childhood/adult educator with 45 years of experience working with children, families, and educators. After retiring, she joined Dalhousie University’s Physical Literacy in the Early Years (PLEY) Project as a research scholar and is the executive project coordinator for the team. Jane continues to teach early childhood courses on a part time basis at MSVU and NSCECE.
Email: janescawley@gmail.com
Twitter: @cawley_jane

Karina Branje

Karina is an MSc candidate (Kinesiology) in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University, and a Student Research Scholar in the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University. Her research is exploring the impact of outdoor loose parts play on children’s physical competence.
Email: karina.branje@dal.ca
Twitter: @karinabranje

Natalie Houser

Natalie is a PhD candidate (Kinesiology) at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research focuses on physical activity experiences of children and youth, the development of physical literacy, and the role that growth, maturation, and development play in these opportunities.
Email: natalie.houser@usask.ca

Nila Joshi

Nila Joshi is a PhD in Health candidate at Dalhousie University, and a Research Scholar in the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University. Nila’s research focuses on the impact loose parts play has on children’s physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development.
Email: nila.joshi@dal.ca
Twitter: @NilaJoshi22

Laura Beth MacPherson

Madison MacQuarie

Madison is a MA candidate (Health Promotion) Dalhousie University, and a Student Research Scholar in the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie. Over the past few years, she has developed a keen research interest in the health of children in the early years, specifically related to physical activity.

Laura Miller

Laura has recently completed her Masters in Health Promotion at Dalhousie University, and is now working as a research associate with the Primary Care Research Unit in the Department of Family Medicine at Dalhousie 
Email: laura.miller@dal.ca
Twitter: @LauraLMillerr

Jackie Nguyen

Jackie Nguyen holds a Masters in Global Health & Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh and studies in Health Promotion, Biology & English from Dalhousie University. She has coordinated various research and evaluation projects with the Healthy Populations Institute including the PLEY project.
Email: jcqueline@gmail.com
Twitter: @jackie_new

Madison Stevens

Madison is a graduate student in the department of Community Health and Epidemiology in the faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University and has recently been accepted to the undergraduate Medical program at Memorial University of Newfoundland. During Madison’s time at Dalhousie she completed several independent research opportunities with Dr. Michelle Stone in the area of children’s physical literacy. Madison also worked as a research assistant for the PLEY project.

Beth Taylor

Crystal Watson

Alex Smith

Alex Smith is an independent writer/researcher and founder/editor of the award-winning blog, PlayGroundology. An ardent play advocate, his original content and curated material reach audiences in over 100 countries on a variety of social media platforms. Alex’s volunteerism also includes programming public play events, speaking engagements as a presenter and panel member and working with news organizations reporting on children and play. Alex is a board member of the Canadian chapter of the International Play Association (IPA).

Email: playgroundology@gmail.com
Website:  PlayGroundology
Twitter: @PlayGroundology

Administrative Support

Jennifer Lorandos

Jennifer is Operations Coordinator of the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University. As part of her role at HPI, Jennifer provides guidance for the strategic planning and management of project funds.
email: hpi@dal.ca

Maureen Summers

Kirsten Jones

Website Design.

Nicole Blinn

Email: nicole.blinn@dal.ca

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