Now Accepting Nominations for the 2021 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

The US Play Coalition is now accepting nominations for its annual Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research.  This award is given annually in recognition of a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play. The 2021 award winner will be honored during the 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL in Clemson, SC.

The inaugural Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research was presented to its namesake – Joe L. Frost, the contemporary father of play advocacy.  “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. “The creation of this award is a fitting tribute.”

Frost 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 was honorary chair for each successive conference.

The 2020 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research was presented to Stuart Brown, MD, Founder of the National Institute for Play

Trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry and clinical research, Dr. Stuart Brown first recognized the importance of play by discovering its absence in the life stories of murders and felony drunken drivers. He is founder and president of the National Institute for Play. Dr. Brown’s book: Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul has been translated into twelve languages.

Upon learning he had won this year’s award named for his longtime colleague and friend, Dr. Brown said, “To be the recipient of an award named after my special friend Joe, and with the blessing of the Coalition is such an unexpected honor. Such affirmation warms my heart.”


Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research.

Deadline for 2021 nominations is 11:59pm EST on March 21.   The annual Play Research winner receives a physical award and has conference fees paid (or refunded) for the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play.

The Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

Purpose:
This is to be awarded annually in recognition of an individual’s body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play.

Evaluation Criteria:
The basis for selection will be the degree to which the nominee has achieved an exceptional research contribution as evidenced by publications, patents, citations, or other criteria deemed important by experts in the field. Outstanding research contributions can take a variety of forms including, but not limited to, theoretical advances, experimental results, development of programs and tools.


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, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, park and recreation professionals, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL explores play across the lifespan, play in the workplace, play in the classroom and address universal issues of access, equity, inclusion and more.  The conference features weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online from April 1 through June 30, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


2021 Youth Development Practitioner Award Application Now Open

The US Play Coalition is pleased to partner with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute for their annual Youth Development Practitioner Award.  The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services. The YLI award winner will be named at the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play.

According to Stephen Lance, Executive Director of Youth Learning Institute, “There are many deserving practitioners across the nation and our goal is to bring recognition to this field of service.”

The 2020 YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award recipient is Jessica Hentoff, artistic/executive director of Circus Harmony in St. Louis. Jessica has been teaching and performing circus arts for over 40 years, using circus arts to motivate social change. It is both an arts education and a youth development organization. They believe that circus teaches the art of life- while children are learning circus arts, they are also learning life skills like focus, persistence, teamwork.

Jessica’s remarkable vision and use of circus arts to build character and community has brought about ground-breaking and bridge-building programs such as Circus Salaam Shalom, which brought together Jewish and Muslim children, Far East Meets Midwest, which combined Asian and Midwestern arts and artists and Peace Through Pyramids, which has brought together young people from around the world. These trademarks of Circus Harmony are the embodiment of the organization’s mission to help children “defy gravity, soar with confidence, and leap over social barriers, all at the same time.”


Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 Youth Development Practitioner Award

Deadline for 2021 nominations is 11:59pm EST on March 21.   The annual YLI Award winner receives a physical award and has conference fees paid (or refunded) for the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play.

2021 Youth Development Practitioner Award Application Process

Purpose:
To recognize outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.

Eligibility:
Must have operated a youth development program or service within the United States for at least 10 or more years.

Evaluation Criteria:
Applicants should show evidence of as many of met criteria in their submitted statement.

  • Accomplishments serve as an example for other youth serving programs.
  • Program/service demonstrates best practices and a nurturing culture that supports inclusivity and human resilience.
  • Outreach efforts promote youth development programs and encourage support and participation from the community at-large.
  • Equips young people to lead and serve, through direct work with youth and by training other practitioners.
  • Demonstrates positive impact on lives of young people and leads by example.
  • Demonstrates high level of leadership, professionalism and integrity in the field of youth development.
  • Strengthens the field of youth work by providing quality training opportunities for youth workers to maximize their investment in young people.
  • Focuses on attempts to improve the quality of youth services by providing training standards and improving program function.
  • Shares best practices with other youth practitioners or serves as a liaison in the community to create a network of participation and sharing of ideas/knowledge.
  • Program/service demonstrates exceptional commitment to public service and/or educational leadership.

Deadline for 2021 nominations is 11:59pm EST on March 21.  If you have any questions, please contact contact Melanie Hammack at hammack@clemson.edu.


Inaugural “Health and PLAY” Institute to Launch at the 2021 Virtual Play Conference

Inaugural “Health and PLAY” Online Institute

Weekly LIVE Webinar Series, April 5 – May 10
Mondays at 5:30pm EST/4:30pm CST/2:30pm PST

The inaugural “Health and PLAY” Online Institute is a weekly webinar series featuring leading healthcare professionals and researchers from across the country.  The institute is the showpiece of the 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL.  The weekly panel presentations will examine the synergies between play and health through five distinct pillars:

  • The Science of Play: What We Know – Examining the history of play science and its relationship to human interaction, brain development and as a potential medical intervention.
  • Healthcare Professionals’ Wellbeing: Burnout, Compassion Fatigue and Play – Pulling back the curtain on the widely recognized and growing epidemic of healthcare professionals’ “burnout” and compassion fatigue with an eye toward using Play as a tool combat “moral injury.”
  • The Role of Play in Society – Exploring the role of play from a population viewpoint and the role of non-profit advocacy groups and state government.
  • Using Play as Bridge Between Technologies – Looking at health technology platforms and discussing how aspects of “Play” can be a bridge to consumer engagement and/or better health outcomes.
  • Play and the Ecosystem of Health – Considering the role of play in addressing the social determinants of health and the role of non-profit advocacy groups and health foundations.

Meet Our Experts

CHAIR/MODERATOR

Michael Suk, MD, is a leading advocate on health and nature, outdoor recreation as a gateway to better health, and play for life champion as our Chair and Moderator for the Health and Play Institute. Dr. Suk is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon, Professor and Chair of the Musculoskeletal Institute at Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania. In addition to his role as a Steering Committee Member for the US Play Coalition, Dr. Suk also serves on numerous Boards including the American Medical Association, Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Associations and SHIFT at the Center for Jackson Hole. Previously he served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the US Department of the Interior and Senior Advisor on Health and Recreation to the National Park Service.

The Science of Play: What We Know
Monday, April 5, 5:30pm EST/4:30pm CST/2:30pm PST

Stuart Brown, MD, is Founder of the National Institute for Play.  His background in psychiatry, the evolution of human and animal play, as well as his clinical research into the causes and prevention of violence, have shown him that authentic play is a state of being which can be accessed and used by everyone, and that play is as important to humans as vitamins or sleep.

Jessica M. Black, PhD, is pioneering and directing advancement of cognitive, educational and social neuroscience into social work research, education and training. Dr. Black is an Educational Neuroscientist and an Associate Professor at the Boston College School of Social Work. She is Chair of Children, Youth and Families Concentration and is the Chair of Teaching Excellence.

Jenny Radesky, MD, is a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician whose research focuses on family digital media use, child social-emotional development, and parent-child interaction.  She uses a combination of observational, qualitative, and passive sensing methods to examine how parents and young children use mobile media throughout daily routines.  She authored the 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics digital media guidelines for young children.

Anthony T. DeBenedet, MD, is a practicing physician (gastroenterology) and wellness officer at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the author of Playful Intelligence: The Power of Living Lightly in a Serious World and coauthor of The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It. His interviews and writings have run in various media outlets, including the New York Times, Psychology Today, the Today Show, the Washington Post, and TIME Ideas.

 

Healthcare Professionals’ Wellbeing: Burnout, Compassion Fatigue & Play
Monday, April 12, 5:30pm EST/4:30pm CST/2:30pm PST

Marie Brown, MD, MACP, is a practicing internist, an associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush Medical College, the director of practice redesign for the American Medical Association, and the immediate past governor of the American College of Physicians (ACP). Dr. Brown is a frequent guest lecturer at academic, national and international health care conferences. Her areas of expertise include: practice transformation, joy in medicine, adult immunizations, medication adherence and diabetes.

Brooke Buckley, MD, FACS, is Chief Medical Officer at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital. She is a board-certified general surgeon and national expert on physician well-being. Dr. Buckley has dedicated a significant portion of her training and professional life to organized medicine and taking a broader look at medical care delivery, with specific interests in emergency surgical care, health-care delivery to rural communities, and physician wellbeing.

Caroline P. Cárdenas, MSN, MA, RN, CBCN, is a doctoral candidate in psychology researching the effects play has on helping professionals experiencing compassion fatigue. She has served as an oncology and hospice nurse for over 15 years. She is the creator of The Hula Hoop Girl where she guides helping professional through the experiential process of play to evoke joy and restore well-being. Caroline is featured in the documentary film, “PLAYING FOR KEEPS,” where she is highlighted as a high performing healthcare professional, who prioritizes play as essential to a more joyous life.

 

The Role of Play in Society
Monday, April 19, 5:30pm EST/4:30pm CST/2:30pm PST

Erwin Tan, MD, is Director of Thought Leadership – Health at AARP and a board-certified internist and geriatrician. He previously served as the director of Senior Corps at the Corporation for National and Community Service, where he oversaw the RSVP, Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs.

Hon. Jerome Loughridge, (INVITED) is Secretary of Health and Mental Health for the State of Oklahoma. He serves in a voluntary capacity as head of the Health Cabinet in the Administration of Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt. In this role, Loughridge is responsible for oversight of the State’s major health-directed agencies, including the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the State Department of Health, along with multiple agencies, boards and commissions. He is also responsible for leadership of the State’s health entities as an integral part of the Governor’s Covid-19 Response Task Force.

Sarah Griffin, PhD, professor of Public Health Science at Clemson University, has over twenty years of experience in public health with a specific interest in eliminating health disparities. Dr. Griffin serves as Principal Investigator of the Greenville Health System (GHS) School-Based Health Center implementation study for OnTrack Greenville. She is also Co-Principal Investigator for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obesity prevention initiative with rural health extension

 

Using Play as Bridge Between Technologies
Monday, April 26, 5:30pm EST/4:30pm CST/2:30pm PST

Amy Babington is Vice President of Client Success & Strategy at Force Therapeutics, a digital health platform dedicated to helping patients recover from musculoskeletal injuries and surgeries. By creating an intuitive user experience to engage a patient population with an average age of 66, the tool helps get patients back to doing the things they love – including play.

Brittne Nelson-Kakulla, PhD, Brittne is a Senior Research Advisor- Consumer Insights at AARP, and Research Lead for the cross-enterprise Technology Impact area. In these roles, Brittne engages with clients around issues related to social connections and technology in order to support AARP, the marketplace, and policy and decision-makers in understanding, engaging with, and innovating for the 50+ consumer and their families.

Meaghan Praznik, is Head of Communications & Partnerships for AllTrails, an app that provides over 100,000 hand-curated trail maps with crowdsourced photos and reviews from millions of hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners. Meaghan is a health, wellness and social media expert.  She is also a 13-time IRONMAN finisher and qualifier for the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships.

 

Play and the Ecosystem of Health
Monday, May 3, 5:30pm EST/4:30pm CST/2:30pm PST

Garth Graham, MD, MPH, is cardiologist, researcher and public health expert who recently joined Google as Director and Global Head of Healthcare and Public Health at Google/YouTube and Google Health. He previously served in two US administrations as US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and was Assistant Dean for Health Policy and Chief of Health Services Research in the department of medicine at the University of Florida School of Medicine, President of the Aetna Foundation as well as Vice President & Chief Community Health Officer at CVS Health. He currently serves on several boards, including the National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute Advisory Council; the Institute of Medicine Board on Population Health and the board of the National Quality Forum.

Daniel Hatcher is Director of Community Partnerships of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, where he manages technical assistance services and resources for out-of-school time sites as they work to achieve national standards for healthy eating and physical activity. Daniel oversees community-based and out-of-school partnerships at the Alliance.

Alex Maiersperger is a Health Care Strategic Advisor in SAS’ Health and Life Sciences Industry Solutions team where he advises SAS health care clients on how to best leverage data for better outcomes, lower costs, and improved experiences.  He is also co-founder of the Advancement League, a social movement and membership organization helping healthcare leaders put “Health, Everywhere” through community causes and career development.

 

Virtual Screening PLAYING FOR KEEPS
Available Friday, May 7 – Monday, May 10

From filmmaker Jamie Redford, “At first glance, a film about the physical, emotional and social benefits of play might seem a little lightweight, but a deep look at the power of play reveals a uniquely effective way to reduce stress, improve health and bolster community connections. As it turns out, adults who engage in enjoyable pastimes, hobbies, and various forms of play are effectively inoculating themselves against the dark side of the modern era.”

Post Film Screening Discussion
Monday, May 10, 5:30pm EST/4:30pm CST/2:30pm PST

Join “film stars” Stuart Brown, Caroline Cárdenas and Peter Gray as they banter and debrief about the documentary – from health implications to access and equity challenges, PLAY is at the heart of many of today’s vital issues.

Stuart Brown, MD, is Founder of the National Institute for Play.  His background in psychiatry, the evolution of human and animal play, as well as his clinical research into the causes and prevention of violence, have shown him that authentic play is a state of being which can be accessed and used by everyone, and that play is as important to humans as vitamins or sleep.

Caroline P. Cárdenas, MSN, MA, RN, CBCN, is a doctoral candidate in psychology researching the effects play has on helping professionals experiencing compassion fatigue. She has served as an oncology and hospice nurse for over 15 years. She is the creator of The Hula Hoop Girl where she guides helping professional through the experiential process of play to evoke joy and restore well-being.

Peter Gray, PhD, is a research professor of psychology at Boston College. His recent research focuses on the role of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so. He has expanded on these ideas in his book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books). He also authors a regular blog called “Freedom to Learn,” for Psychology Today magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, park and recreation professionals, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL explores play across the lifespan, play in the workplace, play in the classroom and address universal issues of access, equity, inclusion and more.  The conference features weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online from April 1 through June 30, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


Harrison Pinckney Joins the
US Play Coalition Steering Committee

We are pleased to announce that Harrison P Pinckney, IV, PhD, recently joined the US Play Coalition Steering Committee.  Our steering committee consists of 21 leaders from across industry, education and health, all committed to its mission to promote the value of play throughout life. Steering committee members contribute their expertise and insights for the current and future work of the US Play Coalition.

Harrison Pinckney loves play. Play consumes much of his time as he is always engaged in fun activities with his three sons and wife. Whether it is hikes on a sunny day, building a cardboard city on a rainy day, or making up pretend words before bedtime, play defines much of his life.

When he’s away from his family, Dr. Pinckney devotes his professional time to examining how to create opportunities for Black youth to experience the freedom and wonderment that defines play. He accomplishes this through his role as an Assistant Professor at Clemson University in the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management department.

Dr. Pinckney is already a very active contributor to the Play Coalition, serving on our Play Research Team to provide expertise as needed and headlining our Play Conference and other partner events, most notably the groundbreaking 2018 keynote on the implications of race on play for youth of color.”

US Play Coalition Executive Director Stephanie Garst said she is thrilled to welcome Dr. Pinckney to the committee:

“I credit Harrison for inspiring us to use our educational platform to begin having the very real and difficult conversations about the implications of race on play for youth of color.  His scholarship and publications provide powerful context of the realities facing youth of color with practical frameworks to help advance the discussion on race, recreation, and youth development.  He is truly part of the new generation of play advocates.  I know that we benefit greatly from his voice and his expertise on our steering committee.”

According to Dr. Pinckney, “Play is essential to learning about the world around us and exploring new possibilities. Being a part of a team that makes play a priority in the lives of others is a rare treat, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to help in that endeavor.”


The U.S. Play Coalition
Founded in 2009, the U.S. Play Coalition is an international network of individuals and organizations that promote the value of play throughout life. The coalition is housed in Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department, part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.  Our membership comes from a cross-section of industries and professions – play researchers, educators, park and recreation professionals, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians, parents and more.  Learn more at usplaycoalition.org


US Play Coalition Announces 2020 Award Winners

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to announce the 2020 recipients of its annual awards program, recognizing outstanding play research and youth practitioners.

First awarded in 2017, our awards program honors exceptional play researchers that have made significant contributions to the knowledge of play and practitioners that help further play in their communities and beyond.

 

2020 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research Winner – Stuart Brown, MD
The US Play Coalition recognizes a play researcher each year for exceptional research in the field of play.  The award honors its namesake, Joe L. Frost, the contemporary father of play advocacy. Frost was influential in the creation of the U.S. Play Coalition, serving as a steering committee member since the organization’s beginning in 2009.

Trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry and clinical research, Dr. Stuart Brown first recognized the importance of play by discovering its absence in the life stories of murders and felony drunken drivers. He is founder and president of the National Institute for Play. Dr. Brown’s book: Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul has been translated into twelve languages.

Dr. Brown’s years of clinical practice and review of over 6000 personal play histories affirmed the importance and need for healthy play throughout the human life cycle.

His independent scholarship and exploration of the evolution and neuroscience of human and animal play have led to the establishment of the National Institute for Play. The mission of the National Institute for Play (NIFP) is to bring the unrealized knowledge, practices and benefits of play into public life.

Dr. Brown co-teaches “From Play to Innovation” at the Hasso Plattner School of Design at Stanford University, and is the “Key Strategist” for the Nevada Medical Center’s Global Play Science Institute.  He continues to produce regular creative scholarly contributions and enjoys other international corporate and academic consulting on play and its many contributions through their engagement with it, as it enhances overall human well-being.  As the information base about play grows, it is evident that play is a public health necessity.  Our species, Brown says, “is built for play, and built by play.”

 

2020 Youth Learning Institute’s Youth Development Practitioner Award Winner – Jessica Hentoff
Jessica Hentoff was recognized by the U.S. Play Coalition and Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute for outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.

Jessica Hentoff is artistic/executive director of Circus Harmony in St. Louis. Jessica has been teaching and performing circus arts for over 40 years, using circus arts to motivate social change. It is both an arts education and a youth development organization. They believe that circus teaches the art of life- while children are learning circus arts, they are also learning life skills like focus, persistence, teamwork.

Since its inception in 2001, Circus Harmony has gone from ten students to over 1300 students and from presenting 40 shows a year to over 500 shows a year. They have developed youth circus troupes which consist of Jewish, Christian, Caucasian, Hispanic, African American and Asian children from inner city and suburban areas throughout St. Louis. In 2007, they started their first Peace Through Pyramids partnership with the Galilee Circus— a Jewish/Arab youth circus from Israel! In 2015, they brought their Peace Through Pyramids program to Ferguson and have now expanded to five other communities and Puerto Rico!

Circus Harmony serves as a model social circus for programs around the world. They were part of a national study by the Weikart Center that found their impact on the development of social and emotional skills exemplary. They believe this is due to the powerful role peer mentoring plays in their program.

Jessica had been named both St. Louis Arts Innovator of the Year and Outstanding Arts Educator of the Year. She was honored to be the first person to receive the American Youth Circus Organization/ American Circus Educators’ Excellence in Circus Education Award. In 2019, Circus Harmony was the recipient of the Missouri Arts Award for Arts Education.


Founded in 2009, the U.S. Play Coalition is an international network of individuals and organizations that promote the value of play throughout life. The coalition is housed in Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department, part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.  Our membership comes from a cross-section of industries and professions – play researchers, educators, park and recreation professionals, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians, parents and more.  Learn more at usplaycoalition.org


US Play Coalition Announces 2020 YLI’s Youth Development Practitioner Award Winner

The U.S. Play Coalition and Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute are proud to announce the 2020  Youth Development Practitioner Award Winner:

Jessica Hentoff, Artistic & Executive Director of Circus Harmony in St. Louis, Missouri.

First awarded in 2017, the Youth Learning Institute’s Youth Development Practitioner Award recognizes outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.  The evaluation criteria is quite extensive and detailed below.  “There are many deserving practitioners across the nation, and our goal is to bring recognition to this field of service,” said Stephen Lance, executive director of the Youth Learning Institute.

MEET JESSICA HENTOFF:

Jessica Hentoff is artistic/executive director of Circus Harmony in St. Louis. Jessica has been teaching and performing circus arts for over 40 years, using circus arts to motivate social change. It is both an arts education and a youth development organization. They believe that circus teaches the art of life- while children are learning circus arts, they are also learning life skills like focus, persistence, teamwork.

Jessica’s remarkable vision and use of circus arts to build character and community has brought about ground-breaking and bridge-building programs such as Circus Salaam Shalom, which brought together Jewish and Muslim children, Far East Meets Midwest, which combined Asian and Midwestern arts and artists and Peace Through Pyramids, which has brought together young people from around the world. These trademarks of Circus Harmony are the embodiment of the organization’s mission to help children “defy gravity, soar with confidence, and leap over social barriers, all at the same time.”

Circus Harmony serves as a model social circus for programs around the world. They were part of a national study by the Weikart Center that found their impact on the development of social and emotional skills exemplary. They believe this is due to the powerful role peer mentoring plays in their program.

Jessica had been named both St. Louis Arts Innovator of the Year and Outstanding Arts Educator of the Year. She was honored to be the first person to receive the American Youth Circus Organization/ American Circus Educators’ Excellence in Circus Education Award. In 2019, Circus Harmony was the recipient of the Missouri Arts Award for Arts Education.


First awarded in 2017, the Youth Development Practitioner Award recognizes outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.

Evaluation Criteria includes:

  • Accomplishments serve as an example for other youth serving programs.
  • Program/service demonstrates best practices and a nurturing culture that supports inclusivity and human resilience.
  • Outreach efforts promote youth development programs and encourage support and participation from the community at-large.
  • Equips young people to lead and serve, through direct work with youth and by training other practitioners.
  • Demonstrates positive impact on lives of young people and leads by example.
  • Demonstrates high level of leadership, professionalism and integrity in the field of youth development.
  • Strengthens the field of youth work by providing quality training opportunities for youth workers to maximize their investment in young people.
  • Focuses on attempts to improve the quality of youth services by providing training standards and improving program function.
  • Shares best practices with other youth practitioners or serves as a liaison in the community to create a network of participation and sharing of ideas/knowledge.
  • Program/service demonstrates exceptional commitment to public service and/or educational leadership.

Founded in 2009, the U.S. Play Coalition is an international network of individuals and organizations that promote the value of play throughout life. The coalition is housed in Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department, part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.  Our membership comes from a cross-section of industries and professions – play researchers, educators, park and recreation professionals, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians, parents and more.  Learn more at usplaycoalition.org


The ABCs of the 2021 Virtual Play Conference Educational Sessions and Research Symposium

The full detailed schedule is coming soon…but until then, below is an alphabetical list of the MORE THAN 60 recorded Educational Sessions and Research Symposium Sessions that will be core content for the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL, available online from April 1 through June 30.

As we prepare for our second online Play Conference, there is a renewed intensity to connect play advocates, educate our national and global community, support play research and publications, and truly fulfill our mission to promote the VALUE of play throughout life. We continue to incorporate phenomenal speakers and resources with unique opportunities for learning through play!

       

 

  • A Play-Based Literacy Program for The Professional Development of Reception Year Teachers
  • A Prescription for Play in Education
  • Access for All: Providing Equitable Hands-On Learning Experiences in A Digital World
  • All Ages, All Abilities, All the Time
  • Beyond Candyland: Learning Through Making Board Games
  • Big Body Play Powers A Child’s Learning Trajectory
  • Capture the Flag: How Traditionally Marginalized Residents Reclaim Urban Space Through Play
  • Circus Is an International Language
  • Crazy Games Workshop Explores Using Low Cost Materials Outside Normal Usage to Create Fun Learning
  • Designing Everyday Spaces for Children
  • Designing Hybrid Outdoor Play and Learning Spaces for All Ages
  • Eduspeak And Play: Surviving the Wolf at The Door While Keeping Play Alive & Well in Your Classroom
  • Equity and Play: Surviving and Thriving
  • Future of Play: Technology Integration
  • Healthy Communities, Parks and Splashpads
  • Hobby Horses—A Hobby, Sport or Pure Play? Feminine Debates on A Contemporary Plaything
  • Inclusive Playground Design:  A Case Study of Three New England Playgrounds
  • Intergenerational Play Within the Workplace: A Powerful Mechanism for Informal Learning
  • Legacy of Laughter; A Grandparent Playbook
  • Let’s Start With Play. Why Play in The Emergency Department Can Be Our Best Tool for Patients
  • Making Connections: People, Places, And Physical Activity
  • More to Say After Outdoor Play: Bookmaking and Storytelling with Children
  • No, They’re Not Too Old to Play. Bringing Loose Parts Play to South Florida Middle Schoolers.
  • Nonprofit, Let’s Play America, Hangs on During the Pandemic with Virtual Play Days & Handbooks
  • Paddle, Pivot, Pedal, Prance and Most of All…PLAY!
  • Parent LAB PLAY DAY Series
  • Parents’ Perceptions of Play Throughout the Pandemic and In the Social Justice Movement
  • Performative Play for The Project Based Learning Classroom
  • Play and Expressive Therapy Interventions for Enhancing Emotion Regulation
  • Play as Culturally Sustainable Family Engagement
  • Play Behavior of Children from an Isolated Area in Brazil: Body and Space as Cultural Expression
  • Play Frisco 2.0
  • Play Like Our World Depends on It: Using Playfulness to Engage Others in The Climate Emergency
  • Play on The Go: Tips for Developing and Using Prop Boxes
  • Play Programming During the Pandemic…. What Can We Learn?
  • Play, Politics, & Policy: Building a State-Wide Movement for Recess
  • Playground Design for School Communities – Moving Towards a Better Way
  • Playing in a Pandemic: Lessons from Virtual and Traditional Instruction in Early Elementary School
  • Pretend Play as a Tool for Development During Virtual Learning of Young Children
  • Prototyping: Play Applied
  • Ready Player One: Harnessing the Power of Activity and Fun Using A Digital Medium
  • Recess and Play Before and During the Covid-19 Pandemic
  • Reconsidering Solitary Play: Understanding Self, Place, and Nature
  • Reducing the Negative Impacts of Trauma Through Outdoor Play
  • Removing Invisible Barriers: A Design Call to Action from Families of Those with Differing Abilities
  • Sacred Play: An Ancient Contribution to Contemporary Play Theory
  • Shifting Play from Survival to Thrivival
  • Social Togetherness in a Time of Social Distancing
  • Soulful Play
  • Sustainability of Self
  • Teaching Off Trail
  • The Benefits and Uses of Collaborative Competition in the Classroom
  • The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Young Children’s Play
  • The Effects of a Multi Recess Intervention on Body Composition in Elementary School Children
  • The Importance of Failure in Play
  • The Push Play Project
  • The Rubber Shark Principle: How Play Is Bridging Our Relationship with Disability Inclusion
  • The Value of Adult Play Is All in the Design
  • Those Summer Days: Exploring Extreme Heat’s Impact on Children’s Outdoor Play and Physical Activity
  • Toy Activism Through Teddybears: Promoting Playful Resilience and Ludounity In Pandemic Times
  • Ways to Play the Virtual Way
  • Wordplay: How Silly Jokes, Nonsense Rhymes, and Secret Languages Thrive in Unstructured Play

 

 

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 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL 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.


US Play Coalition Announces 2020/2021 Action & Research Grant Winners

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to announce the 2020/2021 recipients of its annual grants program, recognizing exceptional researchers, practitioners and play projects.

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 awarded $64,000 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.

2020/2021 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.

Simone Chin, Ph.D., and Susan Caruso of Sunflower Creative Arts received the inaugural Joan Almon Legacy Action Grant, sponsored by Alliance for Childhood.  The action grant funds will support their project “No, They’re Not Too Old to Play! Bringing Loose Parts Play to South Florida Middle Schoolers.”  It is a Build & Play program for adolescents (ages 11-14) from South Florida’s economically challenged, underserved or vulnerable African American, Caribbean- American, and Hispanic population. Build & Play invites children to create, invent and build using their imagination and loose parts.

Ariana Brazier, CEO and co-founder of ATL Parent Like a Boss in Atlanta, was awarded an Action Grant for a Parent Lab PLAY DAY Series that aims to actively engage Black families and families of color, particularly from poor and low-income communities as well as teachers, school administrators and any individuals and/or groups who serve in their focus community.   The Parent LAB PLAY DAY Series engages participants in interactive games designed to connect the active body to brain development, and thus enhance cognitive learning experiences.  They use physically interactive games in and through our PLAY DAY Series to celebrate and promote opportunities for Black cultural expression.

Angela Kyle, Co-Founder/ Executive Director of PlayBuild in New Orleans, was awarded an Action Grant for her initiative “Super-Powering Play:  Mobilizing PlayBuild’s Volunteer Community Board as Play Ambassadors.”  The PlayBuild Community Board is a grass-roots volunteer network of committed and passionate community residents who manage the day-to-day operations and programmatic activities of the organization.  Established in the summer of 2019 the Community Board is the connective tissue between the organization and the Central City neighborhood where we work.   The Community Board members have no formal training in child development, education, or design disciplines, however, they have shown enthusiasm and willingness to acquire the skills and training that will make them more effective brand ambassadors for PlayBuild’s work.

2020/2021 Research Seed Grant Award Winner

William Massey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Oregon State University, received this year’s $3,000 Research Seed Grant Award for his project, “The recess initiative: A participatory action approach to increasing physical activity and self-regulation through recess in elementary schools.”

Dr. Massey’s line of research focuses on the intersection of play, physical activity, and child development. His current line of research is dedicated to understanding how recess quality impacts healthy development in elementary school-aged children.

Working through the OSU Psychosocial PhysicaL ActivitY (2PLAY) Lab, Massey says the overall purpose of the proposed study is to test the feasibility of a multi-component recess intervention to increase physical activity and self-regulation in elementary school children. In considering conditions in which recess might promote positive child-level outcomes, they are also examining the quality of the recess environment.


Founded in 2009, the U.S. Play Coalition is an international network of individuals and organizations that promote the value of play throughout life. The coalition is housed in Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department, part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.  Our membership comes from a cross-section of industries and professions – play researchers, educators, park and recreation professionals, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians, parents and more.  Learn more at usplaycoalition.org


“PLAY and Early Childhood” ONLINE Institute Available Through 12/30

The US Play Coalition and the Institute for Child Success are thrilled to present the recordings and materials from the “PLAY and Early Childhood” ONLINE Institute, a unique early childhood professional development program presented live on Zoom on October 3, 2020.

AVAILABLE ONLY THROUGH DECEMBER 30, 2020.

Presentations included with this 6-hour institute:

Workshop 1 – “Voices for Play: Advocating for Active Play”
Amity Buckner, M. Ed., Director, Pickens County Office of First Steps

Workshop 2 – “Integrating Play and STEAM Teaching into Early Childhood Classrooms”
Amanda Bennett, M.Ed., ABD, Lecturer in Child Development, College of Education, Clemson University

Workshop 3 – “Strategies for Supporting Preschool Children Who Have Experienced Trauma”
Jill C. Shelnut, Ph.D., Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, Clemson University
Jennifer Geddes Hall, Ph.D., LPC, ACS, RPT, Assistant Clinical Professor, College of Education, Clemson University

Workshop 4 – “Play and the Reggio Emilia Approach”
Dee Stegelin, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, Clemson University & Senior Fellow, Institute for Child Success

Workshop 5 – “Children Think Better on Their Feet Than in Their Seat”
Mary Mackenzie, M.Ed., United Kingdom, Senior Fellow, Institute for Child Success

Workshop 6 – “Playing with Vivian Paley’s Storytelling and Story Acting Approach”
Debora Wisneski, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Omaha


Registration Fee for the PLAY and Early Childhood ONLINE Institute

$30.00/person
$125 for groups of 5-10 from the same school or center*
*Please email us to get this rate or inquire about rates for groups larger than 10.


VIDEO: Panel Discusses Engaging State Policymakers with Outdoor Play

The Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook is a joint effort of the Children and Nature Network, the Meridian Institute, National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, Outdoor Alliance for Kids and North American Association of Environmental Education.

As part of the 2020 Online Conference on the Value of Play, representatives of each organization (detailed below) discussed the Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook, a tool to empower grassroots and grasstops leaders and educate state legislators on the value of outdoor engagement and play – with an aim to work together to pass legislation to give more youth and families more outdoor opportunities.

Panelists include:

Watch the full video of the panel presentation recorded live on Zoom, April 24, 2020: “Engaging State Policymakers with Outdoor Play: Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook”
Want to see more great online professional development content like this?!
Join the 2020 Online Conference on the Value of Play through December 15.
 

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 has been moved ONLINE for 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our first-ever online Play Conference! Learn more at usplaycoalition.org/playconference2020