Explore “Play, Design and Mental Health” with Play Futurist Yesim Kunter

In a world of commercial toys, how can we design resources that support the mental wellness and health of children?

“Play, Design and Mental Health”
with play futurist Yesim Kunter
Tues, April 13, 11:30am EDT/8:30am PDT

There is a growing need of resources that are playfully dedicated to the wellbeing of children. There is no question that there is a huge decline in children’s mental health. The risks are huge but resources are limited.

By playing we can learn to adapt and gain insights on how we can navigate in certain situations. Therefore it is crucial to be able to create the resources that children can experiment and learn through.

In order to design products that aim to deliver these insights means collaborating with diverse group of experts’ in their fields, understanding children’s inner worlds and translating into a design language.

For example if you are working on a product that will help children to be able to sleep well, you have to understand the literature of sleep, then the cultural differences and what type of colors, forms, textures, sound will be suitable.  Designing resources for Mental Health means understanding the literature and translating into the right design language for that given culture.

In this featured session, Yesim Kunter explores important design principles and shares relevant case studies.


Yesim Kunter is a recognized play expert and a creative strategist, understanding behavior of people to create new experiences and define new opportunities.

Yesim is an independent consultant; developing play experiences for various customers for product development, applying Play Philosophy to spaces, environments, communities, culture creation as well as market research with future scoping. She had been training organizations with diverse backgrounds from kids to professionals for leveraging Creativity and Innovation through Play Workshops.

Yesim worked at leading Industry for 12 years in various countries; such as Toys R Us, Lego and Hasbro. Trained as a toy designer and her passion to unravel the future to identify and define new experiences transformed her carrier to become a play-futurist.

Yesim was brought up in Turkey and lived in New York, Denmark, Billund and now in London, which gave her a multi-cultural perspective that helps her to become a keen observer in human behavior.


This session is part of the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play, featuring weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online through June 30, 2021.  Registered 2021 Virtual Play Conference attendees will access the session in the Attendee Hub.

This presentation will be recorded and included in our 2021 VIRTUAL Play Conference content, so don’t fret if you miss the live session!

 

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!!!


Power PLAYer Panel Kicks Off
2021 VIRTUAL Play Conference

Power PLAYer Panel:
PLAY IS SURVIVAL

Available ON DEMAND through June 30

(Registered conference attendees can access the recording through session through our conference attendee hub.)

Thought leaders and game changers come together for our kickoff keynote session – the“Power PLAYer Panel,” tackling the 2021 conference theme of “PLAY IS SURVIVAL,” particularly as it relates to issues of access, equity and inclusion.  This is a discussion NOT to be missed!

Laura Huerta Migus (moderator) is the Executive Director of the Association of Children’s Museums in Arlington, Virginia, the world’s largest professional society promoting and advocating on behalf of children’s museums and children’s museum professionals. Throughout her career, Laura has been devoted to the growth and education of children, particularly those from underserved and under-resourced communities. Under her leadership, ACM pursues innovative and effective partnerships to leverage the power of children’s museums worldwide.

In 2018, Laura was named as an Ascend Fellow of the Aspen Institute, and in 2016 she was recognized as a Champion of Change for Summer Opportunity by the White House. She is a noted speaker and author on topics of equity and audience-focused museum practice for institutions including the Board of Science Education of the National Academies of Sciences, the U.S. Play Coalition, and various university texts. Previously, she served as the Director of Professional Development and Equity Initiatives at the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Inc. and also held positions at the National Multicultural Institute and the National Association for Bilingual Education. She earned a B.A. in Spanish from Texas A&M University and an M.S. in Organization Development and Leadership from Saint Joseph’s University.


Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!  In early 2021, Lysa M. Ratliff became the newest CEO of KABOOM!, the national non-profit that works to end playspace inequity. For good. Throughout her career, Ratliff has served as a champion for kids and their resilience, leading efforts to connect partners and make change for communities and kids across the country, and around the world. She was the Vice President of Partnership Development at KABOOM!, has held senior leadership roles at Habitat for Humanity International, Save the Children, and spent more than a decade in international marketing communications at several large corporations. Lysa has led both public and private fundraising teams, cause marketing and communications campaigns with large global corporations. When not spending time with her own kids and husband, Lysa enjoys all things home, with most of her playtime being spent in the garden growing organic fruits and vegetables.


Dr. Christine Sims, Associate Professor of Educational Linguistics/ American Indian Education at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.  Dr. Sims specializes in indigenous language revitalization and maintenance issues, provides technical assistance to indigenous nations in language program planning, and trains American Indian language teachers. She established the American Indian Language Policy Research and Teacher Training Center at UNM in 2008. The Center engages in public advocacy and training support to Indigenous language maintenance and revitalization initiatives in New Mexico and has sponsored several international language symposia with funding support from the National Science Foundation. The Center’s most recent research projects include a study of language immersion programs in Bureau of Indian Affairs schools in New Mexico, a training and materials development support project for New Mexico Native language teachers working with Native children, ages of 0-8, funded by the W.K. Kellogg and McCune Foundations.

Dr. Sims serves on the National Advisory Council for American Indian/Alaska Native Head Start Programs and is a member of the Tribal Early Childhood Research Center Steering Committee based at UC Denver. She is also active in the New Mexico Coalition for the Majority, an advocacy organization supporting cultural and linguistic diversity in education.

Dr. Sims is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Acoma and resides with her family on the Acoma Pueblo reservation in northwest New Mexico.


This kickoff keynote presentation was recorded live on zoom and is included in our 2021 VIRTUAL Play Conference content available through June 30.  Find the replay here.

 

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!!!


March 29th #WePlayChat: Play and Public Librarianship

Join us on Twitter Monday, March 29 at 7:00pm EST/4:00pm PST for the next instalment of our monthly #WePlayChat.  We are honoured to welcome Dr. Noah Lenstra from Let’s Move in Libraries to the main stage to discuss the topic, “Play and Public Librarianship”.

Dr. Noah Lenstra started Let’s Move in Libraries in 2016 at the University of North Carolina Greensboro’s School of Education, where he is an assistant professor of library and information science, and an affiliated faculty member in the Gerontology program. His research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed publications, and in June 2020, his book Healthy Living at the Library was published by Libraries Unlimited. He served on the American Heart Association’s Voices for Healthy Kids Activating Rural America Advisory Group, and he is an active member of the Public Library Association and the Association for Rural & Small Libraries.

Here are the questions we will be covering during this #WePlayChat:

Q1. What is playful lifelong learning, and how do public libraries support it, including during COVID-19?

Q2. What examples of playful learning have you seen public libraries support? What forms of community play could you see public libraries help support?

Q3. What are the obstacles to taking a more playful approach to public librarianship?

Q4. Do we see public librarians as supports for community play, and how do we change this attitude if not?

Want to join the global conversation around the value of play!?  When it is time for the chat, login to Twitter, and search for the hashtag #WePlayChat and follow along on the “Latest” tab.  Feel free to like, reply, and retweet. Just be sure to include the hashtag #WePlayChat so your input is part of the feed!
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#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the field of play. Launched in 2016, it is the longest-running monthly play-based chat in the world.

Our #WePlayChat participants come from 33 countries, spanning multiple continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers, and experts from across the globe.


Inaugural Health & PLAY Institute to Launch at the 2021 Virtual Play Conference

Inaugural Health & PLAY Online Institute

Weekly LIVE Webinar Series, April 5 – May 10
Mondays at 5:30pm EST/2:30pm PST
plus Recordings ON DEMAND through June 30
Registration is required (details below).

Eligible for up to (6) AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.

The inaugural Health and PLAY Online Institute is a webinar series featuring leading healthcare professionals and researchers from across the country.  Sessions are presented LIVE with replay recordings of each available soon after (Recordings will be online through June 30).

The institute is the highlight 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 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 EDT/2:30pm PDT

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 EDT/2:30pm PDT

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 EDT/2:30pm PDT

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.

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

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.

 

Using Play as Bridge Between Technologies
Monday, April 26, 5:30pm EDT/2:30pm PDT

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 EDT/2:30pm PDT

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 EDT/2:30pm PDT

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.


Disclosure Statement

  • The planners and presenters for this activity have reported no relevant financial relationships to disclose.
  • No presenters will be discussing off-label uses for products and devices.

AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™

  • The Health and PLAY Online Institute has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society and the US Play Coalition. MedChi is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
  • MedChi designates this web-based educational activity for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Registration Fee for the Health and PLAY Online Institute

  • Included with Full Registration for the 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL
    CMEs are NOT included with this fee.
  • Health & PLAY Institute ONLY — $75/person
    This will give access to the Health & PLAY Institute sessions. CMEs are NOT included with this fee.
  • Health & PLAY Institute ONLY plus CMEs — $200/person
    Includes access to Health & PLAY Institute sessions PLUS up to (6) AMA PRA Category 1 Credits with the successful completion of the related Activity Evaluation Forms.

Thanks to our Leading 2021 Virtual Play Conference Supporters

 

 



 


 

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!!!


Nominations for the 2021 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research Open Through Noon on March 26

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 .

The 2021 Play Research Award winner will receive a physical award, social media coverage and free full conference registration for the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play*. Given that we are virtual this year, our 2021 Award Winner will ALSO receive free conference registration for our in-person 2022 Play Conference ! (Travel, lodging and other fees not included.)

*Note that registration fees will be refunded if the winner is already registered.

Deadline for 2021 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research nominations is 12:00pm (noon) EST on March 26.


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 was 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 was 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 each year until 2019.  Joe sadly passed away on February 17, 2020.

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 12:00pm (noon) EST on March 26.   

The 2021 Play Research Award winner will receive a physical award, social media coverage and free full conference registration for the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play*. Given that we are virtual this year, our 2021 Award Winner will ALSO receive free conference registration for our in-person 2022 Play Conference ! (Travel, lodging and other fees not included.)

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 Open Through Noon on March 26

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 honored during 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

The 2021 YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award winner will receive a physical award, social media coverage and free full conference registration for the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play*. Given that we are virtual this year, our 2021 Award Winner will ALSO receive free conference registration for our in-person 2022 Play Conference! (Travel, lodging and other fees not included.)

*Note that registration fees will be refunded if the winner is already registered.

Deadline for 2021 YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award nominations is 12:00pm (noon) EST on March 26.


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 12:00pm (noon) EST on March 26.  If you have any questions, please contact contact Melanie Hammack at hammack@clemson.edu.


February #WePlayChat: Play and Fun in Higher Education: Why it’s Rebellious

Join us on Twitter Wednesday, February 24 at 6:00pm EST/4:00pm MST for the next installment of our monthly #WePlayChat.  We are honored to welcome Dr. Lisa K. Forbes and Dr. David Thomas from Professors at Play to the main stage to discuss the topic, “Play and Fun in Higher Education: Why it’s Rebellious”.

Lisa K. Forbes, Ph.D. is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Counseling Program at the University of Colorado Denver. Lisa is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is training to become a Play Therapist. Lisa’s research centers around intensive mothering practices, gender conformity, and mental health and…you guessed it, play and fun in teaching and learning!

David Thomas Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Online Programs at the University of Denver and Assistant Professor Attendant in the Department of Architecture at the University of Colorado Denver. David’s research centers around fun, fun objects (like buildings!) and the meaning of play.

Here are the questions we will be covering during this #WePlayChat:

Q1. What is playful learning/playful teaching and why should we care in higher education?

Q2. What examples have you seen of play working in your teaching? Why did it work? What were the outcomes?  Would this work with K-12 as well as with post-secondary students?

Q3. What are the obstacles to taking a more playful approach to learning with post-secondary students?

Q4. Do post-secondary students really want to play when they learn and how do you convince them if not?

Want to join the global conversation around the value of play!?  When it is time for the chat, login to Twitter, and search for the hashtag #WePlayChat and follow along on the “Latest” tab.  Feel free to like, reply, and retweet. Just be sure to include the hashtag #WePlayChat so your input is part of the feed!
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#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the field of play. Launched in 2016, it is the longest-running monthly play-based chat in the world.

Our #WePlayChat participants come from 33 countries, spanning multiple continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers, and experts from across the globe.


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