Water: Discovering the Extra Dimension of Play

Did you know that by adding water, you are actually adding an extra dimension of play?

Water is timeless…it has a universal appeal…it transcends cultures and generations, transcends age groups. It brings an endless supply of sensations, thrills, and excitement. Water draws people in and brings people together. And yet when we think of the word ‘play’ even here, our minds don’t firstly associate that with water, we might think of sports or playgrounds or games we play at home or in schools. But we kind of underestimate the importance and fun and benefits of water play.

“Because unlike playing sports or with toys or in a sandbox, we don’t move water. Water literally moves us.  Physically. Emotionally. Socially. Across age gaps. Even across demographics” says Marie-Catherine Dubé, Vortex’s lead designer and play advocate.  At the 2018 Play Conference, Marie-Catherine and others shared the social and physical developmental aspects of water play and the revitalizing role that water-based playscapes are having in our communities.

With 7,000 installations in 45 countries, Vortex Aquatic Structures International is a world leader in aquatic play solutions.  Learn more about Vortex at vortex-intl.com


CEUs for Architects and Landscape Architects Available to Registered Attendees at The Play Conference


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Want a PLAYful way to earn AIA and LA CES CEUs?!  Come to the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play, April 8-11 at Clemson University.

More than 18 hours of our sessions have been approved for LA CES credits.  Over 9 hours of our sessions have been approved for AIA learning units – two sessions also approved for HSW credits (NCBLA credits are pending too!).

Check out these LA CES approved sessions below.  AIA designation indicated where applicable.  All are one hour unless noted:

  • Effective Playground Protective Surfacing: The Key Element for Risk Assessment under the new ASTM F1487 (*3.5 hours, separate registration required – AIA HSW and LU)
  • Inclusive Design for the Aquatic Splash Pad (AIA HSW and LU)
  • Community-Based Strategies for Building and Activating Inclusive Playgrounds (AIA LU)
  • Learning to Build (AIA LU)
  • Lighting Play Environments for Today & the Future (AIA LU)
  • Shhh! There’s a Playspace coming to the Library! (AIA LU)
  • Your Senses at Play! Explore playground designs and programs that support children with Autism (AIA LU)
  • A Walk on the Wild Side: Connecting Play and Zoo Walkways
  • Availability and Quality of Urban Play Spaces in The East Africa Community: A Critical Assessment
  • Just Play Project: Ithaca: Designing the Child-Friendly City!
  • US-PLay-Round-Tables
  • Sensory Play: An Integral Component of Inclusive Recreation
  • Shaped by Play: The Formative Role of Play and Playgrounds
  • The Butterfly Effect: Building on the Big Idea
  • The Many Spaces of Play: The Many Faces of Children
  • Water Play and Children’s Complex Scientific Explorations
  • Zoos as a Nature Play Destination: Nature Playgrounds at Bronx Zoo and Houston Zoo

Special registration options are available for schools, non-profits, and government agencies looking to send 4 or more delegates.  Contact Stephanie Garst for more information.

 

The Conference on the VALUE of Play
The Play Conference, as it is commonly known, is an annual educational conference presented by the US Play Coalition. The latest research and practices in the field of play are presented at the conference, which brings together play researchers, park and recreation professionals, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The three day event includes keynote and featured speakers, round tables on critical issues and trends, research symposium for academics, educational sessions for practitioners, action and research grant opportunities, PLAYtalks and PLAYinstitutes, networking, EPIC play breaks and more.

  

 


Now Accepting Nominations for 2018 Outstanding Researcher and Youth Practitioner Awards

The U.S. Play Coalition is now accepting nominations for its 2018 awards program, recognizing outstanding play research and youth practitioners.  First awarded at the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play, this new awards program honors exceptional individuals each year.  The winners not only receive a physical award, but also have conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play.  Deadline for nominations is 11:59pm EST on December 15.

Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

The Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research honors its namesake, the contemporary father of play advocacy.  The award recognizes someone for a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play.

“Joe Frost has been an influencer for our organization’s work as well as for the world of play,” said Stephanie Garst, executive director of the U.S. Play Coalition. “This award is a fitting tribute.”

Frost is the Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. He is known across the world for his more than 30 years of work on early childhood and children’s play environments. Past president of both the Association for Childhood Education International and International Play Association/USA, he is the author or co-author of 18 books and numerous publications and has also served as a consultant for playgrounds worldwide.

Frost was influential in the creation of the U.S. Play Coalition, serving as a steering committee member since the coalition’s beginning in 2009. He served as a keynote speaker that year at the coalition’s first conference – then called the Summit on the Value of Play –and has been an honorary chair for each successive conference.

 

YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award

The U.S. Play Coalition teamed with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute for the Youth Development Practitioner Award. The award recognizes outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services. (The nominee does NOT have to be affiliated with Clemson University.)

“There are many deserving practitioners across the nation, and our goal with this award is to bring recognition to this field of service,” said Stephen Lance, executive director of the Youth Learning Institute.


#Thankful4Play Photo Challenge for November

This November, we want YOU to help us show the world how you are #Thankful4Play with our first ever photo challenge.  As we lead up to the American Thanksgiving holiday, please post pictures on all your favorite social media platforms with the hashtag #Thankful4Play and tag @usplaycoalition too!
Top #Thankful4Play posts will be featured in our first ever #Thankful4Play Thanksgiving gallery – and the most popular photos will receive PLAY prizes!

Note: Photos will be shared on our social media and possibly in future publications.


#WePlayChat: How Communities Can Promote Play

Join us Tuesday, August 29 at 12:00pm EST as we welcome co-moderator Carly Demanett of the Eugene Civic Alliance to our #WePlayChat on “How Communities Can Promote Play.”

Carly Demanett is the Media and Communications Manager for Eugene Civic Alliance (ECA) in Eugene, OR. ECA was established to build and operate a community sports and entertainment venue to benefit the children of Eugene. 

It’s about kids and how we as a community provide for their basic physical fitness. It’s about how healthy activities affect our community and economy. It’s about the resilience of a community, despite setbacks, to play on.”

Here are the chat questions that will guide our dialogue:

Q1. What are your local communities doing to support play?
Q2. What are the secret ingredients to supporting sustainable play initiatives?
Q3: What is the best way to effectively communicate the importance of play within a community?
Q4: How can partnering with other orgs/businesses/schools/etc. help promote play?

#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the wide open field of play. Launched in 2016, our #WePlayChat participants come from 7 countries, spanning 4 continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY. We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through our #WePlayChat.  We have our chats at different times on different days to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in the conversation around the value of play. This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from across the globe.


2018 Play Conference Logo Design Competition Announced

Are you creative?!  Handy with graphic design programs?! Wanna win a $100 Amazon.com e-gift card?!  Submit a design for our first ever conference logo by July 9.

The winning logo will be used to establish the conference’s visual identity and highlight the theme for the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play.


FREE CEUs, AIA Learning Units, and LA CES credits Available to Registered Attendees at The Play Conference

US-PLay-Round-TablesWant a PLAYful way to earn CEUs?!  Come to the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play, April 2-5 at Clemson University.

Clemson University awards CEUs for your participation in sessions at the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play. All keynotes, featured and educational sessions are 45 minutes in length.  Participants can be awarded .05 CEUs for each of these sessions attended. There is no additional fee for CEUs at this conference.

NEW THIS YEAR!  Several of our sessions qualify for AIA and LA CES credits.  There are 4 hours eligible for AIA learning units and 16 sessions pending LA CES approval (though we have been assured it is just a matter of time).  These credits will also be available at no additional charge to our participants.
Special registration options are available for schools, non-profits, and government agencies looking to send 4 or more delegates.  Contact Stephanie Garst for more information.

Register today for The Play Conference!


US Play Coalition to honor Joe Frost with Inaugural Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

Dr. Joe L. Frost, Ed.D, L.H.D., is one of America’s leading experts on play and playgrounds and has a global reputation as the contemporary father of play advocacy.  He is the Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus at The University of Texas at Austin with a passion for children’s play and play spaces.  Joe has been an influential member of the US Play Coalition’s steering committee since its humble beginnings.  He has served as moderator at the 2009 Summit on the Value of Play and then as honorary conference chair for each successive play conference.  Joe Frost has been an influencer for our organization’s work as well as for the world of play.  Along with his wife Betty, Joe attends US Play Coalition events whenever he can!

At the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play, the US Play Coalition will present the inaugural Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research.  This is to be awarded annually in recognition of a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play.  It only makes sense that Joe will be the first recipient!

Each year the recipient of the Joe Frost Award will receive not only a physical award, but also conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the Play Conference. To all of Joe’s friends, family, colleagues, students and admirers, we hope you will consider supporting the new award with a tribute donation to the Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research with a tax-deductible contribution today!


KaBoom! CEO to give PLAYtalk at 2017 Conference on the Value of Play

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Our next PLAYtalk presenter is determined to bring play everywhere, especially to low-resource communities in the United States.  James Siegal is CEO of KaBOOM!, the national non-profit that seeks to give all kids the childhood they deserve, filled with play.  KaBOOM! is dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.

James Siegal says that, in addition to building play spaces in low-income neighborhoods, KaBOOM! urges local leaders to take steps to create equitable, kid-friendly cities.  “The conversations about improving cities all too often ignore the needs of kids and families,” he says.

Most recently, KaBOOM! hosted The Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million competkaboom-logo-tagline-1200x630ition to help kids access innovative play spaces.

For his PLAYtalk, James will discuss “Transforming Every Day Spaces into PLAYces”.

PLAYtalks are our Play Conference version of TED Talks. They will be a series of 15-20 minute dynamic, entertaining, enlightening, engaging, inspiring, informative talks by thought leaders in the play world.

Learn more about the conference by clicking here.

Early bird registration is now open!


Innovative Play Space Designer Matthew Urbanski to Keynote The 2017 Conference on the Value of Play

Innovative Play Space Designer Matthew Urbanski will be a keynote spMatthew Urbanski September 20, 2010 Pier 6- BBP © Julienne Schaereaker for the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play, April 2-5 at Clemson University.

Matthew is a landscape architect and Principal of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates in New York, NY. He lectures regularly on design of play spaces in the landscape and how spatial complexity, particularly when combined with plants and other natural materials, supports an integration of active and imaginative play. Examples from Matthew’s work in playground design include Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, a riverfront park in Tulsa, Hoboken’s Pier C Park, the Union Square Park Playground and Teardrop Park in Manhattan, and Pier 6 of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

US Play Coalition Steering Committee Member Teri Hendy introduced us to Urbanski.  “Matt and his amazing team of designers at MVVA are responsible for creating some of the most forward thinking play environments in the US today.  Matt sculpts the earth creating three-dimensional spaces that contain a wide range of types of settings that truly engage people of all ages beckoning them to join in the play.”  Hendy, who is president of Site Masters Inc., has worked with Urbanski on several projects in Germany.  She continued, “Architects and designers across the globe are gaining design inspiration from Matt’s play environments.  I think we are truly blessed to have the opportunity to hear him speak.”

Matthew’s keynote remarks will examine lessons learned from designing play spaces.  His presentation is called, “Designing for Fun: Making Play Spaces that City Kids (and Parents) Love”