Support Play Trailblazers Like These When You Support Giving TuesPLAY!

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday is #GivingTuesday. It is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 28, 2017, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We call it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!) Big or small, your gift MATTERS!!

One of our 2017 Action Grant winners was Harper’s Playground, the first fully-inclusive, nature-based community playground in Portland, OR.   Harper’s Playground aims to increase awareness about and widespread replication of their inclusive playground model. To further this work, they have an annual “Community Play Day” that brings diverse people, families and community partners together to raise awareness, to elevate conversations and, most importantly, to make more play for more people.

According to Britt Stetson, Development Director for Harper’s Playground, “the 2017 Action Grant Award lead to significantly increased engagement in and impact of this event. In the past, given a small staff, the event was community-organized and informally promoted with no financial resources. This award meant we were able to give a small stipend to volunteer event organizer, allowing her to dedicate considerable time to event planning and promotion. We were also able to fund promotion and day-of activities for participants. The result: our most robust Community Play Day to-date with well-organized and elevated participation from local partner organizations and greater attendance by children and families all across the Portland Metro Area. Because of our 2017 Action Grant Award, significantly more families have experienced the power of inclusive play at Harper’s Playground, turning them into active, year-round playground goers and advocates and ambassadors of our work.”

We are thrilled that our Action Grant was so meaningful for Harper’s Playground!  Our action grants are $1,000 grants to facilitate play in communities. These grants support creative and innovative proposals to engage groups in play or to educate about the value of play. Check out all of the play trailblazers whose projects received Action Grants over the years.

To support great projects like this, please consider a Giving TuesPLAY gift!  Join the global movement and donate on Tuesday, November 28! Your gift matters!  We can’t wait to share the future of play with you!


Here is YOUR chance to GIVE the gift of PLAY on Giving TuesPLAY!

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday is #GivingTuesday. It is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 28, 2017, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants  for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We call it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!) Big or small, your gift MATTERS!!

Grant funding is a distinctive feature of our annual Play Conference, and we are proud to have awarded $47,000 in funding to date.   Check out the projects our grants have supported over the years – https://usplaycoalition.org/action-research-grants

Our 2017 Giving TuesPLAY goal is to fund at least one Research Grant and one Action Grant, for a total of $4,000. We are on our way, thanks to a jump start challenge from our amazing steering committee. Now we challenge you!

YOU can help us provide action and research grants in 2018 with your Giving TuesPLAY gift!  Join the global movement and donate on Tuesday, November 28! Big or small, your gift MATTERS!! We can’t wait to share the future of play with you!


Now Accepting Nominations for the 2018 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

The US Play Coalition is now accepting nominations for its second 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 2018 award winner will be named at the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play 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 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.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research.  Deadline for nominations is December 15, 2017. The 2018 winner will be notified in mid-January and recognized at the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play at Clemson University, April 8-11, 2018.  The winner will have conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the Play Conference.

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.


2018 Youth Development Practitioner Award Apps Now Open

The US Playli-large-logoy Coalition is pleased to partner with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute for their second 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 2018 Conference on the Value of Play in Clemson, SC.

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 inaugural award went to Dan Mathews, chief operating officer at Camp Twin Lakes, a Georgia-based organization that provides camp experiences for children with serious illnesses, disabilities and other life challenges.  According to his nomination, Dan is “a champion for all youth using play as the center of his outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in furthering development, access, and professionalism of the field of youth-development…He is an excellent standard bearer for the inaugural Youth Development Practitioner Award.”

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Youth Development Practitioner Award.  Deadline for nominations is December 15, 2017. The winner of the 2018 Youth Development Practitioner Award will be notified in mid-January and recognized at the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play at Clemson University, April 8-11, 2018.  The winner will have conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the Play Conference.

2018 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.

If you have any questions, please contact Melanie Bargar at 864-787-2893.


Nature Fix Author Florence Williams to Speak October 31

The US Play Coalition is proud to partner with the Clemson University Institute for Parks for a special presentation by author Florence Williams.

2017 George B. Hartzog, Jr. Lecture

“Does Nature Make Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative?”

Tuesday, October 31 @ 2:00pm
Brooks Center, Clemson University

This lecture is free and open to the public.  A book signing reception will follow the lecture.

Florence Williams is a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and a freelance writer for the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, The New York Review of Books, Slate, Mother Jones, High Country News, O-Oprah, W., Bicycling and numerous other publications.

A fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature and a visiting scholar at George Washington University, her work focuses on the environment, health and science.

Williams’ book The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier and More Creative has been described as “an intrepid investigation into nature’s restorative benefits by a prize-winning author.”

For her Hartzog Lecture, Williams will discuss emerging science regarding the benefits of nature to human development and how it is instrumental to our physical and mental well-being. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas and her conclusions are more urgent than ever.

Florence Williams’ lecture is sponsored by the Clemson University Institute for Parks and the US Play Coalition. The Hartzog Lecture Series in Park and Conservation Area Management was developed to feature leading figures in the field of conservation.


Chief Playmaker and Founder of The Life is Good Kids Foundation to Keynote the 2018 Play Conference

The US Play Coalition is thrilled to announce that Steve Gross will be the first keynote speaker for the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play, April 8-11, at Clemson University.

Steve Gross is the Founder and Chief Playmaker of the Life is Good Kids Foundation. He is a pioneer in utilizing playful engagement and meaningful relationships to overcome the devastating impact of early childhood trauma.

Steve’s 2018 keynote presentation is titled “Spreading the Power of Optimism through Play.”

Steve is serious about play – and its tremendous benefits for all people. The Life is good Kids Foundation is a non-profit organization that for twenty years has used play to help children overcome life threatening challenges such as poverty, violence and illness. A recognized expert in utilizing, joyful play to promote resiliency in children, he has extended those insights to adults, reconnecting them to the passionate, joyful and playful selves that enable them to be their best in and out of the workplace.

Through research, first-hand lessons learned in his crisis response efforts following Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake and his uniquely humorous and participatory engagement with audiences, Steve demonstrates how to use playfulness to energize individuals, teams and organizations – especially in challenging, change-filled times – allowing them to reach their full potential.

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.

  

Inaugural Researcher and Practitioner Awards Announced at 2017 Play Conference

The U.S. Play Coalition established an awards program recognizing outstanding play research and youth practitioners at the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play.  This new awards program will honor exceptional individuals each year.  The winners will not only receive a physical award, but also have conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the Play Conference.

Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

The inaugural Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research was presented to its namesake – Joe L. Frost, the contemporary father of play advocacy.  The award recognizes 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. “The creation of 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 also teamed with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute to present the first-ever Youth Development Practitioner Award. The award recognizes outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.

“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.

The inaugural award went to Dan Mathews, chief operating officer at Camp Twin Lakes, a Georgia-based organization that provides camp experiences for children with serious illnesses, disabilities and other life challenges.  According to his nomination, Dan is “a champion for all youth using play as the center of his outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in furthering development, access, and professionalism of the field of youth-development…He is an excellent standard bearer for the inaugural Youth Development Practitioner Award.”


2017 Grant Winners Announced

Grant funding is a distinctive feature of our annual Play Conference, and we are proud to have awarded $47,000 in funding to date.   At the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play the new grant winners were announced.  The review process was challenging as we had a record number of outstanding submissions this year.

Each year a $3,000 research seed grant is awarded to a researcher or group of researchers who present empirical research at the play conference to support new, innovative and thoughtful work on the value of play.  This is seed funding in support of longitudinal or future research in diverse topics related to play, and grant recipients’ work reflects great potential for expanding knowledge in the field.

The 2017 Research Seed Grant was awarded to Shan Jiang, PhD, from West Virginia University for her project, “Healing through Play: Play Opportunities as Positive Distractions at Pediatric Healthcare Environment.”

In addition to the research grant, $1000 action grants are awarded to support creative and innovative proposals to engage groups in play or to educate about the value of play. This year we had two partners supporting our action grants, IPA-USA and Partners for Parks.  We also had funding from our Giving TuesPLAY initiative.

There were three projects that each received a 2017 Action Grant:
– Britt Stetson for Harper’s Playground at Arbor Lodge Park, a playground for children of all abilities in in Portland, Ore.

– Debora Wisneski and Miriam Kuhn for “Building a Community of PLAY Through an Interdisciplinary University Collaborative” at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

– Gregory Manley from City of Play in Pittsburgh, Penn., for Ludovia, a weekly class for young professionals and working-class minorities to foster play through physical, emotional and social communication. 


Featured Sessions at 2017 Conference on the Value of Play

The US Play Coalition is proud to announce its featured sessions for the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play.  The annual conference, whose 2017 theme is “Where Design Meets Play – Bringing Play to Landscapes, Curricula, Programs, Museums, and Beyond,” will be April 2-5 at Clemson University.  Here is a glimpse at the featured speaker lineup…more to come!

“Sometimes It Hurts: Designing Play Environments with as Much Risk-Taking as Possible and as Little Safety as Necessary”
Panelists:
– Moderator / US Perspective: Teri Hendy, Site Masters, Inc.
– European Perspective: Julian Richter, Richter Spielgeraete GmbH
– UK Perspective: Harry Harbottle, CATE Consultancy
– Canadian Perspective: Jennifer Martin, TELUS Spark
This two-part session includes speakers from the US, Germany, the UK and Canada presenting an international view of the role of risk taking in designing children’s play environments.  The panel will focus on the perception of risk vs. the reality; designing for acceptable risk that balances risk and play value; establishing a precedent of risk tolerance; and modeling risky play that creates healthy and innovative communities.

“How Science and Research are Rocking the Play World”
Stuart Brown, MD – Founder of National Institute for Play
Joe Frost, Parker, PhD – Centennial Professor Emeritus, University of Texas
Tom Norquist – Senior Vice President of Product Development & Marketing – PlayCore/GameTime

When Stuart Brown, a pioneer in research on play, and Joe Frost, the contemporary father of play advocacy, are your guides, only magical things can happen!  Tom Norquist, product innovator at GameTime, will lead the conversation with his mentors on how hard science and research are the building blocks of playful design.

“The Genius of Play: Designing an Integrated Program to Help Families Capitalize on Key Developmental Benefits for Their Children”
Panelists:
– Anna Yudina, Director of Marketing Initiatives, Toy Industry Association
– Erik “Dr. E.” Fisher, Ph.D., Psychologist, Media Consultant, Author
– Jackie Retzer, Marketing Communications, Toy Industry Association
– David Gallagher, Chief Program Officer, Playworks
The presentation highlights research findings about parental attitudes towards play and shares best practices for utilizing social media, expert influencers, and partnerships to build a national play movement.


“Designing a Practice of Play”

Dan Harding, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Architecture and Community Design+Build
Clemson University
A question that has remained centric to my personal endeavors as a craftsman, designer, and educator has been seemingly simple: Is it possible to design a Practice based on Play?  Perpetual musing on the premise yields further inquiry into: can we Play at Practice?, and, can we Practice at Play?  In the spirit of a Robert Pirsig Chautauqua, I endeavor to highlight the landscape my work has explored and the territory it has attempted settle.

“Using Empathy to Design School Based Play”
David Gallagher, Chief Program Officer, Playworks
This session will focus on how to have an empathic lens when designing programming for play within schools.

 

“Lighting with LED . . . The Opportunities and the Challenges”
Joe Crookham, Chief Executive Officer and President, Musco Sports Lighting, LLC
This session will cover LED related issues regarding energy, maintenance, spill, glare, sky glow and the impact of color spectrum choices on both vision and health.  This session will discuss design opportunities and challenges when using diode light devices, LED, to illuminate large areas such as a ball field, play areas and walkways.


“The Future of Schoolyards and Strategies to Work with School Communities to Get Things Funded and Built”

Bambi Yost, Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture,  Iowa State University, will share lessons learned from  her time as Project Manager and researcher on Denver Public School’s Learning Landscapes schoolyards.

“Playing Outside the Lines: Play As A Metaphor for Life”
Erik “Dr. E.” Fisher, Ph.D., Psychologist, Media Consultant, Author
Often we teach kids to play games by the rules, and there is definitely a value to this. However, what can happen when you  take play and the game beyond the rules and look to what play can teach about the child and what you can teach children about life through play?

“BrandNewNoise: Where Design Meets Play”
Richard Upchurch, Founder of BrandNewNoise
Explore the inspiration and process behind the brand’s creative sound gadgets. It started out as a simple voice recorder made from the electronics of a $2 toy and some wood scraps – a simple design.  Today BrandNewNoise is making handcrafted sound gadgets for all kids, musicians, lovers, and aliens looking to explore – even celebrity soundmakers like the Black Keys.  Each recorder is handmade in Brooklyn, NY out of American sustainable wood. Richard’s talk will focus on how the simplicity in design leads to creative input and play for the end user.

“Placemaking Leads To Playmaking: How Edible & Medicinal Gardens Make Serenbe More Playful”
Steve Nygren – President of Serenbe
After escaping Atlanta to rural South Fulton, Steve Nygren noticed the positive affect nature had on his daughters. They were happier, more relaxed and chose nature over toys. He then set out to create a built environment that would not only cater to play, but encourage it.”  Serenbe is a progressive community connected to nature on the edge of Atlanta.  Serenbe’s architectural planning sets a new standard for community living.  Steve’s presentation will share the specific ways nature makes children healthier, happier and smarter, how increased access to nature transforms our culture, and show how edible and medicinal gardens encourage outdoor play.

 “Ten Strategies to Get a C in Play”
Michael Bryant, Director of Educational Program Activation at Discovery Education
At Discovery Education, Michael Bryant was instrumental in the launch of Techbooks, powerful digital resources instead of the traditional textbook. Currently, Mike works with corporate and non-profit partners to craft engaging free programs and resources for students all over the world. From hosting virtual field trips at a Ford plant to immersing himself in a STEM lab for the Tiger Woods Foundation, Mike works to ensure all educators and students have access to the best resources. Michael’s featured session will focus on the 4Cs (Collaborate, Create, Communicate and Critical Thinking) and strategies & resources Discovery Education has found to work well before, during and after school.

 

New to the Play Conference? You’re Gonna Wanna Read This!

Meet Marie-Catherine Dubé, Aquatic Play Design expert at Vortex International and poster child for all the reasons YOU should come to the Conference on the Value of Play !  This is her story…

My first experience at the US Play Coalition’s annual Conference on the Value of Play was definitely a memorable one, to say the least. As a senior Industrial Design student studying at Purdue University the spring of 2015, I discovered the existence of the coalition while working on my thesis in Nepal, the fall prior. My work, Tilt: the Playscape Project, involved studying play in a third world environment, and from there I would build a playground at a local school. I quickly fell in love with the field of play.  Discovering that there was this whole GROUP of people—professionals!—who were also passionate about play, I knew I needed to get to this conference however possible. Through educational sessions, roundtables, and amazing keynote speakers, I discovered how multifaceted this field of study can be, how broad the span of interested individuals actually is.

The most valuable part of my first experience at the US Play Coalition conference, aside the sessions (that were actually educational!), the roundtables, the keynotes…was the networking. Meeting people to share ideas with and work with was truly the jumpstart to my career. I attended a session on water play where a company from Montreal, Canada was presenting. As an avid Montreal Canadians fan (and Canadian by birth), I later saw one of the presenters in the hospitality suite on the last day and was not shy about my love for Canada and play. As it turns out, networking your passion is pretty valuable; I met the right person at the right time!  Turns out that presenter was the president & CEO of Vortex!  Because of that conversation, I later got what I consider is the coolest job in the world! I moved to Montreal and now work as a waterpark designer, where every single day I get to study and utilize my love for play. Because of that conference in 2015, I absolutely love my job, the US Play Coalition, and I’m a Play Advocate for life!

Haven’t convinced you yet?!  Check out all the details for the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play…and join me!