The U.S. Play Coalition is proud of its annual awards program, recognizing outstanding play research and youth practitioners. First awarded at the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play, our awards program honors exceptional individuals each year.
The annual Play Award winners not only receive a physical award, but also have conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the Conference on the Value of Play to receive the award in person. Deadline for nominations is 11:59pm EST on December 15.
Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research
The Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research is given annually in recognition of a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play.
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.
Previous Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research Recipients:
2019 – Lynn A. Barnett, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Recreation, Sport & Tourism at the University of Illinois and Fellow in the Academy of Leisure Sciences.
2018 – Olga Jarrett, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of early childhood/science education at Georgia State University, evaluator of an NSF project in Belize, and a past president of The Association for the Study of Play and the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play.
2017 – The inaugural Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research was presented to its namesake – Joe L. Frost, the contemporary father of play advocacy.
YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award
The U.S. Play Coalition teams up annually with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute to present the 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.
Previous YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award Recipients:
2019 – Flo Brett, founder of the Effective Leadership Academy (Warrensville Heights, OH). The Academy and its 135 partners (and counting) has helped more than 20,000 students learn “real world” skills they need to be successful after they graduate.
2018 – Pat “The Play Lady”Rumbaugh, is co-founder of Let’s Play America. She founded the organization TakomaPlays! in Takoma Park, Maryland, in March 2009. TakomaPlays! is now part of Let’s Play America.
2017 – 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.”