US Play Coalition partners with Nickelodeon on the Road to the Worldwide Day of Play

2016 marks the 13th year of Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play (WWDoP).  On WWDoP, Nickelodeon goes completely dark for three hours, taking pon the road day of play logoirogramming off the air on all of its channels and shutting down its websites to reinforce one simple message: get up, get out, and go play!  Once again, the US Play Coalition is a partner with Nickelodeon for this important and FUN-omenal endeavor!

This week, the US Play Coalition has a series of events – educational events and PLAY events – as part of the 3rd annual “Road to Worldwide Day of Play.”  These are events leading up to the big day on September 17:

Tuesday, August 23 at 2:00pm EST, on Twitter

#WePlayChat – “Back to School” Twitter chat on “The Importance of Recess” with co-moderator Debbie Rhea of the LIINK Project

twitterchat1Dr. Rhea and the “Let’s Inspire Innovation ‘N Kids” (LIINK) team has been making headlines with their incredible work to get more and more frequent recess in the daily school schedule.  Their successes in Texas elementary schools have gone viral!  Recent news from across the country shows a growing trend in recognizing the value of recess:
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Join us for this FREE professional learning opportunity and connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from the across the globe from the comfort of your own environs.


Thursday, August 25, 10:00am-11:00am EST, Washington, D.C. – fran-barryExpert Panel: The Value of Play

US Play Coalition co-founder Fran Mainella will be a panelist on this discussion moderated by Clemson University faculty member Dr. Barry Garst (who is also a Play Conference presenter and volunteer!).  This panel, that includes other distinguished experts, is part of a special one day workshop on Summertime Opportunities to Promote Healthy Child and Adolescent Development by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. To register to participate, click here.


Thursday, August 25 – 100th Birthday of the National Park Service!

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This Thursday, August 25th, the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday and you’re invited! On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act into law, creating the National Park Service.  Did you know that our co-founder, Fran Mainella, was the FIRST woman to be the director of the National Parks Service??!!  She wants to make sure that you know there are 412 national park units and ALL NATIONAL PARKS ARE FEE FREE from August 25th through August 28th!  So GO PLAY in your favorite National Park! #FindYourPark


Saturday, August 27, 12:00-3:00pm EST, Nettles Park, Clemson, SC – Clemson Community Play Day

We are teaming up locally with the City of Clemson to have a Clemson Community Play Day as part of Nickelodeon’s Road to the Worldwide Day of Play.  Our friends at the Outdoor Lab and OLLI at Clemson University are also coming out to PLAY!  Join us for kids zumba, inflatables, YUMMY treats, games, crafts, Pickleball, photos with the Clemson Tiger and much more!!! It’s FREE fun for all ages! GET UP, GET OUT & GO PLAY!


Sunday, August 28, 2:15-3:45pm EST, Fluor Field, Greenville, SC – Play Day at Fluor Field 2016

The US Play Coalition is partnering with The Greenville Drive for another PLAY DAY AT FLUOR FIELD!  Pre-game festivities include field access to play games like blob tag, whiffle ball and relay races on the award winning Fluor Field outfield grass. Plus crafts, PLAY tattoos and a photobooth will be on the concourse near the team store! Following the on-field fun, participants will cheer on the Drive as they take on the Asheville Tourists at 4 pm. Be sure to stick around until the final out as kids will run the bases after the game!

Discounted Tickets in the Play Coalition section are just $8. Click HERE to order online or call the Drive Box Office at 864-240-4528.

Next #WePlayChat is All About ADVENTURE!

The next #WePlayChat on Twitter will explore Adventure Play on Wednesday, June 15 at 4:00pm EST.twitterchat1


This month’s guest moderator will be Reilly Bergin Wilson, a co-founder and board member of play:groundNYC, a new adventure playground in New York City. play:groundNYC is the first true adventure playground in New York City in over 40 years. Staffed by playworkers, play:ground allows for play with loose parts, hand tools, earth, and reclaimed materials. In the tightly managed urban landscape, having a dedicated space for free play like play:ground helps young people develop confidence, decision-making power, and a sense of ownership of their environment.

Reilly Bergin Wilson of play:groundNYC


Here’s a glimpse at what we will be chatting about:

  • What are the defining principles of adventure play and does it differ from other kinds of play?
  • How do we increase public awareness of the principles of adventure play?
  • How can we get local parks departments to invest in playworkers rather than play equipment?
  • How can we integrate and apply the principles of adventure play to settings outside of “adventure playgrounds” (e.g. schools/home schooling, museums, child-friendly city policies)

This next chat is part of our new monthly Twitter Chat series.  #WePlayChat-ers to date include teachers, playground organizations, play advocates and other play enthusiasts from coast to coast as well as from Canada, Australia, Denmark and the UK – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag (#). This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with similar interests.  To be a part of our chat, be sure to search for #WePlayChat and follow the live stream of tweets.  Then respond by including the tag #WePlayChat

We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through these #WePlayChats.  We are trying them 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 the across the globe from the comfort of your own environs.

Remember that this month we will explore ADVENTURE PLAY with our guest moderator, Reilly Bergin Wilson.

Latest Play Pulse Issue Now Online

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Is physical activity the “wonder drug”?  Is boredom good or not so good?  Could being in nature be a natural remedy for anger, fear and stress?  These are the topics addressed in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Play Pulse, a regular publication of the US Play Coalition that addresses play indicators and trends. The publication evaluates the upside and downside of each topic, along with practical tips for addressing these issues in everyday life.

Remember you can find all our publications on our webpage under the research and the communication menus.  Please spread these good works to your colleagues around the globe!

Next #WePlayChat is April 15

The next #twitterchat1WePlayChat on Twitter will be on Friday, April 15 at 2:00pm EST.  We will be chatting about “Lessons Learned at The Play Conference 2016.”  Hope you will join us whether or not you were at the conference!

This next chat is the fourth in our new monthly Twitter Chat series.  #WePlayChat-ers to date include teachers, playground organizations, play advocates and other play enthusiasts from coast to coast as well as from Canada, Australia, Denmark and the UK – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag (#). This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with similar interests.

Over the next few months we will continue to share the voice of play on Twitter through these #WePlayChats.  We are trying them 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 the across the globe from the comfort of your own environs.

Mark your calendar!  Our next #WePlayChat will be held on April 15th at 2:00pm EST.  And in May we will begin inviting guest moderators to  the chat – Genius of Play will be our first.

Find us on Twitter @USPlayCoalition

Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play Champion to be PLAYtalk Presenter at The Play Conference 2016

Jean Margaret Smith

Nickelodeon’s Jean Margaret Smith, will be one of the first ever PLAYtalk presenters at The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play.

Smith is Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Administration for Nickelodeon.  For more than a decade under her direction, Nickelodeon championed Worldwide Day of Play, an unprecedented annual event in which all Nickelodeon channels suspend programming and the network and its partners host grassroots events with the message: “get up, get out and go play.” (In 2015, the US Play Coalition became a partner in the WWDoP initiative!)  Smith will speak on this groundbreaking initiative in her PLAYtalk entitled, “Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play: Its Impact and Its Future.”

Jean Margaret Smith is responsible for managing the network’s strategic relationships with social advocates, elected officials, and public opinion leaders, as well as spearheading the company’s overall public affairs agenda, including signature pro-social initiatives and overall corporate responsibility. She has helped craft several long-term, strategic initiatives to address social concerns impacting children and their families including HALO Awards, Beyond the Backpack and Get Dirty. She sets the company’s corporate social responsibility agenda.

Smith spearheads outreach to key public affairs external constituencies for all Nickelodeon television brands and businesses, including Nick Jr, TeenNick, and Nicktoons. In addition, she works closely with the Nickelodeon digital brands such as and on incorporating pro-social content, managing digital and online privacy and safety issues, and raising other public awareness issues. Smith also oversees the company’s relationships with key partners including the Afterschool Alliance, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the YMCA to amplify the network’s commitment to kids and families.

“To say that Jean Margaret is committed to family, community and PLAY is an understatement!” says Stephanie Garst, executive director of the US Play Coalition. “We are thrilled that she will be with us for The Play Conference 2016!”

Learn more about the conference by clicking here.

FREE CEUs Available to Registered Attendees at The Play Conference

US-PLay-Round-TablesWant a PLAYful way to earn CEUs?!  Come to The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play, April 3-6 at Clemson University.

Clemson University awards CEUs for your participation in sessions at The Play Conference 2016. 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.

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!

Nature Rx Filmmaker Justin Bogardus to Join PLAYtalk Lineup

Our next PLAYtalk presenter just found the cure for EVERYTHING bad in your life – a prescription for Nature!

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Justin Bogardus’ short Nature Rx films (over 25 million views through Facebook and Youtube) have entered the world vernacular with their unique dose of laughs and the outdoors – two timeless prescriptions for whatever ails you. Nature Rx parts 1, 2, and 3 have appeared at over 50 film festivals worldwide, garnering several best short awards, and national attention from Outside Magazine, National Geographic, Sierra Club, Wired Magazine, Upworthy, and others.

Justin’s filmmaking career began in NYC in 2004 when he produced several award-winning documentaries for television about wrongful convictions and post-conviction DNA exonerations. Alongside his film work, Justin Bogardus has a master’s degree in contemplative psychology, and teaches part time at Naropa University. Currently Justin is developing the next Nature Rx series – Nature Rx Kids. His PLAYtalk at The Play Conference 2016 will be “Does Nature have a Marketing Problem?”

We are thrilled that Justin will be with us for The Play Conference 2016! 


The ABCs of Play Conference 2016 Educational Sessions

The full detailed schedule is coming soon…but until then, below is an alphabetical list of the Educational Sessions that have been accepted for The Play Conference: Rebooting Play.


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Be sure to REGISTER TODAY because the early bird deadline for this PLAYful conference is Monday, February 15.


Adventures in Risk: Comparing injury rates of one population on two different school playgrounds

Advocacy & Awareness:  An overview of a 20 year project promoting SAFE, inclusive, and high quality outdoor play areas for children

All Grown Up! Emerging Trends with Play Past Childhood: Parkour, Parks, and Programming

An Action Grant Update – Providing Appropriate Play Experiences for Children with Autism

Art of Active Play: A Philadelphia Experiment in Promoting Health through Play

Bernheim’s Children at Play Initiative: A Community Approach to Change

Bestowing the Value of Play through Literacy, Science, and the Arts

Building a Community of PLAY: A Collaborative Educational Public Project

Child’s Play: Creating nature based outdoor play space in family child care settings

Come play with me!  Mutual benefits of intergenerational play between young adults and older adults

Connecting Children and Nature Through Art-based Environmental Education Programming

Designing Fitness-Focused Playgrounds: a stealth-health community wellness solution

Evolution Not Revolution: Working within the educational establishment to contribute to the play revolution

Family Homelessness and the Contextual Nature of Play

Forensic Playwork – the art of reading the signs of play

From Fascination to Torture: Children’s interactions with bugs during play.

From past to present: The value of play across the lifespan

Right To Play’s Play at the Core Program: Learning through the Power of Play

Healthy Way to Grow: Increasing Physical Activity in Early Care & Education Programs

Letting Inmates Run The Prison – Lessons from giving democratic free play to an inner city school

Making the Case for Play Policy and Practice: Evidence-Based Indicators

Mapping Playspaces in Springfield, Missouri

Nature-Based Child Centered Play Therapy

NaturePlay in your Parks and Community Centers

New Games:  The Foundation of Cooperative  & Non-Competitive Play & Games

The Genius of Play: Making Play a Priority for Today’s Busy Families

Physical Literacy is the Gateway to Play

Play as a key element in teaching and learning about the natural world

Play Everywhere: Making Play the Easy Choice

Play For All II: A Journey of Community Connection and Program Evaluation

Play Initiative: Before, During, and After School with Family and Educational Leaders

Play is Power: Play-Based Preschool in a Climate of Educational Emergency

Play is the Proper Prescription for Innovation

Play Strong: a medically-based physical activity program

Playing in School: The Principals’ Perspective

Playing in the park! A coalition workgroup’s efforts to increase youth play opportunities throughout Greenville County, South Carolina

Playing Is Learning: How Inclusive Playgrounds Support Language Development

Playing With Your Food: How an urban food desert is recovering from a natural disaster through healthy life-style choices and play

Playworking the Children’s Museum: Beyond Play-Based Learning

Playworks Pro

Promoting Physical Activity through Multigenerational Play

Reboot Summer Camp Healthy Habits

Recess Revolution – Rethink the Way You Play!

Pilot Study of an Outdoor Play Prescription Program for Children

Rethinking Play on Elementary School Grounds

Rethinking the Play (Recess) Privilege: Good Kid vs Bad Kid

Roots and Wings: Exploring intergenerational play

The Evolution of American Playgrounds From 1900 to 2020 and Beyond


Teachers perceptions of LiiNK project benefits for K-2 children

The (Seemingly) Unprepared Environment: A Montessori School’s Journey to Revolutionize Play

The BcubeTM Experience: Accelerating organizational performance

The Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone and other stories of the US Adventure Play Renaissance

The Importance of Good Design: A Comparison of Play in London versus New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles

The Kinesthetic Classroom: Why, How and When?

The LiiNK Project: The effects of play and character development on classroom behaviors and attentional fatigue in public school grades K & 1

The Need for Play in Psychological Rehabilitation

The Nexus of Policy and Play: A Reboot for the Future

The Play Cycle – the invisible thread that weaves through playing

The Power of Neighborhood Play

The power of play in developing emotional intelligence for leadership success

The relationship of added recesses, physical activity levels, and positive emotional states in K-2 aged children

Tinkering: Constructivist play across the life span

Understanding Preschool Teachers’ Beliefs about Outdoor Play and Naturalized Playgrounds and Practices for Young Children

Use Your Inside Voice and Your Outside Mind II: Playful Instruction and Classroom Management

Using an Outdoor Classroom to extend learning through play!

Using Books To Encourage Play: A Bibliographic Adventure

Using Play to Promote Physical Activity

We want you…to attend the US Play Coalition Mid-Western Play Conference

What’s wrong with a little PLAY in the work place?

Where Design Comes into Play: Improving access to play through innovation

Young Children & Playing With History



Sneak Peek of Award Winning film “NaturePlay” at The Play Conference 2016

Attendees of The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play will get a special sneak peek of the brand new, award winning documentary NaturePlay.

NaturePlay is a stunning 4K, Cinematic portrait of Childhood defining education and play. Upon the start of their own child’s education, the Danish/American filmmakers discover that in the USA rampant school testing has become a virus, turning the system into an infected beast. In their search for a cure, they go on an inspiring Nordic journey to uncover how children naturally learn and a way to take childhood back. A secret defense is also unveiled to rescue these children. One that can drive social change.  In a High Stakes education – What’s truly at stake?  Our Children.

Most recently, NaturePlay won the award of Excellence from the Accolade Global Film Competition.  Each year Accolade bestows a Humanitarian Award to a deserving filmmaker who is committed to making a difference in the world and recognizes filmmakers who have created outstanding films that fulfill the goals of this prestigious award.

The goal of the Humanitarian Award is to honor filmmakers who are bringing awareness to issues of Ecological, Political, Social Justice, Health and Wellness, Animals, Wildlife, Conservation and Spiritual importance. (One of the others winners was Ridley Scott for his film ZERO.) That makes 4 awards total for NaturePlay so far, including one for Cinematography


Our First Giving TuesPLAY a SUCCESS!

12341633_1093585690653853_317839602983039713_nA big, loud, cheerful THANK YOU to everyone who gave on Giving TuesPLAY! Thanks to YOU we raised funds for two action grants and then some! With 100% participation from our amazing steering committee and dozens of first time donors, we cannot be more proud of our very first Giving Tuesday initiative.

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday is #GivingTuesday. It is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, the US Play Coalition was a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging members, friends and play advocates to support us by donating to our Action and Research Grants to create our first ever #GivingTuesday Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We called it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!)

Even though GivingTuesPLAY has passed, you can give play every day! If you believe in the value of play, please give when you can!