US Play Coalition Announces 2019 Grant Winners

The US Play Coalition recognized exceptional researchers, practitioners and play projects at its 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play, held at Clemson University between March 31 and April 3, 2019.

Play is important for people of all ages to be physically active, mentally alert, creative, and socially connected. Over the past decade, the US Play Coalition has been proud to have given almost $60,000 in action and research grants to a variety of projects. These investments have helped foster the continued growth of both a body of knowledge and community-focused play experiences that benefit thousands of people of all ages and abilities.

2019 Action Grant Winners

Three $1,000 action grants are providing needed funding for projects that are facilitating play in specific communities and across the country.

Courtney Gardner and Ben Dalbey with Free for All Baltimore received an Action Grant to help organize a Free for All Community Day. The event will make families aware of the opportunities for play, demonstrate the value of play activities to community leaders, and help engage the community in creating places for children and youth to play in Baltimore.

Ahren Hoffman, Jean Bailey and Kimberly Mosely with the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association are creating a Spanish version of the Brilliant Benefits of Toys Guide, which explores how toys are perhaps the fastest and most fun way for a child to reach important milestones through physical, cognitive, communicative, social/emotional and sensory play experiences. The guide, which is already available in English, will be shared both digitally and in print.

Shannon Keleher, Ph.D., Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Frisco, for the PlayFrisco! project, which will provide training for area teachers and parks and recreation employees, so they are better equipped to spread the message of the importance of play.



2019 Research Seed Grant Award Winner
Janet Loebach, Ph.D., received this year’s $3,000 Research Seed Grant Award for her project, “Development of a research-based audit tool for assessing the quality and efficacy of outdoor play environments.”

Loebach is developing a research-informed outdoor playspace audit tool to assess several different outdoor and natural play spaces, including in public parks and recreation facilities, schools or childcare facilities, and educational facilities such as museums or nature learning centers.

The assessment tool and a user guide could be used by designers, facility managers and administrators, school and child care facility staff, parks planners and managers, and even community groups, to assess or guide the development of natural, outdoor playspaces. It could also be used by researchers to evaluate play opportunities, or complement other tools, such as behavior mapping or staff walkalong interviews.


The U.S. Play Coalition
The U.S. Play Coalition is an international network of individuals and organizations that promotes the value of play throughout life. Formed in 2009, the coalition is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The coalition is housed in Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department, part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.