The U.S. Play Coalition and the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at Clemson University are thrilled to announce a new home for the U.S. Play Coalition at the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University.
Founded in 2009 at Clemson University, the U.S. Play Coalition has grown into an international network of individuals and organizations, promoting the value of play throughout life. The Coalition hosts conferences and educational trainings, encourages and conducts research and provides avenues of communication about the value of play worldwide.
On the heels of the incredible 2022 Conference on the Value of Play, the first in-person annual conference since 2019, Coalition leadership determined that it was the perfect time to make a bold move to facilitate the continued growth and reach of the U.S. Play Coalition. After an extensive search process, Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University was identified as the ideal place to launch the next great chapter of the U.S. Play Coalition – to carry forth its legacy and advance its initiatives that have served as a springboard for the modern play movement.
Steve Wolter, executive director of the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, agrees. “Eppley is perfectly placed to partner with the U.S. Play Coalition because we recognize the importance of play and play spaces, understand the roles of accessibility and equity in play, have significant workshop and conference organizing experience and are an organization that values and utilizes research and analysis. We also have a portfolio of program units and services that complement the work of the U.S. Play Coalition.”
Stephanie Garst, executive director of the U.S. Play Coalition, expresses gratitude towards Clemson University, which has been their home for over 13 years. Garst acknowledges the university’s dedication to transforming and enhancing lives by providing access to advanced research, exceptional facilities, and natural resources. She credits the university’s support for helping the U.S. Play Coalition carry out their mission to promote the importance of play in everyone’s lives. Garst extends a special thank you to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management for their contributions to their success.
The U.S. Play Coalition’s transition team has been working tirelessly since January to chart the course for the future. In place of The Play Conference this year, they have devised an exciting professional development plan for 2023. Beginning July 14th, the 2023 Play Date Tour kicks off, featuring day-long “mini conferences” with content that draws inspiration from the location and the play experts in that area. Each “Play Date” is unique, and participants are welcome to register for one or all of them!
Here is our 2023 Play Date Tour schedule:
- July 14 – Philadelphia, PA (hosted by Studio Ludo & Smith Playground)
- August 11 – Louisville, KY (hosted by Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest)
- October 9 – Ft Worth, TX (hosted by LiiNK Center for Healthy Play & Ft Worth Botanical Gardens)
- November 9* – Virtual Play Date (hosted online)
*virtual play date subject to change
Our 2023 Play Date Tour will bring PLAY to new places and provide an opportunity for the Eppley team to meet, connect and engage with the broader play community. Sponsorship, lineup and registration details will be available soon.
Stephanie Garst continues to provide leadership as executive director of the Coalition through this transition, and the Eppley Institute is committed to the continuation, further stewardship, and advancement of all the initiatives of the U.S. Play Coalition – including the return of the annual Conference on the Value of Play in 2024.
The future of the U.S. Play Coalition is bright!
The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Land
The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands works within the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community (IIDC). Founded in 1993 at Indiana University, the Eppley Institute’s goals echo this founding principal of its namesake, Garret Eppley, a pioneer in park and recreation education. We advance knowledge by seeking emergent trends and concepts for understanding and application, and we share this with allied professions in partnerships that in turn advance experiences of people of all abilities.
Eppley provides services through a variety of platforms including the Great Lakes Training Institute, World Parks Academy, National Center on Accessibility, Playground Maintenance Technician Training, our e-learning site ProValens Learning, and now as the home of the U.S. Play Coalition.
The U.S. Play Coalition
Founded in 2009, the US Play Coalition is a partnership that promotes the value of play throughout life. We are an international network of individuals and organizations that recognize play as a valuable and necessary part of a healthy and productive life.
The coalition hosts conferences and educational trainings, encourages and conducts research and provides avenues of communication about the value of play worldwide.
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