You’re Never Too Old
to Play at the Library

Summer Blog Series – Libraries & PLAY #3

“You’re Never Too Old to Play at the Library”

Since 2008, Lifetime Arts, a nonprofit focused on creative aging, has worked with dozens of public libraries across the country to bring playful arts to older adults.

The Public Libraries Initiative works as follows:

“Led by professional teaching artists, libraries implement skill-building workshop series which foster mastery and promote meaningful social engagement through free programs in all arts disciplines. At each library, culminating events celebrate the achievements of every [older adult] participant.”

The reason Lifetime Arts gravitated to public libraries is because of libraries’ incredible reach. On May 5, 2021, the Wyoming State Library announced that it would be working with Lifetime Arts and the Wyoming Arts Council to develop “participatory, sequential, socially-engaging and professionally run arts programs” in 15 libraries across the state.

You can see more examples of creative aging in America’s public libraries in the reporting of PBS, which covers “How Library Classes in the Arts Are Changing Aging.

Libraries are Social Infrastructure

In small towns and urban neighborhoods, the public library is uniquely placed to support playful aging.

Some small-town public librarians call themselves “de facto senior centers” given the absence of any comparable infrastructure in these places.

Even in urban communities, public libraries are uniquely placed to support play among older adults. Brooklyn, New York’s Alice Baker, 74 years old,  told NPR’s All Things Considered that what appeals to her about public libraries is that she can attend activities for people her own age in a place that welcomes people of every age:

“They have exercise, they have classes for kids. It brings everybody in,” says Baker. “You can bring your family with you.”

Dancing the tango at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Sunset Park Branch as part of a Lifetime Arts’ Creative Aging Program ca. 2015. Image courtesy Brooklyn Public Library.

 

Baker was being interviewed as part of an NPR story entitled “Xbox Bowling For Seniors? Visit Your Local Library.

The idea of bowling at the library also captivated the attention of Columbia University Sociologist Eric Klinenberg, who in Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life focuses on the critical importance of older adults playing together at the library.

On June 7, 2019, he tweeted a video showing the members of Brooklyn Public Library’s Library Lanes in action. Check it out to see the power of public libraries as a playful social infrastructure for older adults!

In his review of Palaces for the People, former presidential candidate and current secretary of transportation Pete Buttigieg focuses on the importance of playful aging in public libraries:

“The new book’s exploration of this reality begins in the basement of a library in a low-income Brooklyn neighborhood, where an Xbox-based bowling competition pits local seniors against rival teams from a dozen library branches across the borough. The example of a virtual bowling league has particular poetic resonance two decades after Robert Putnam, the Harvard political scientist, raised fears of societal collapse in his study “Bowling Alone.” Where Putnam charted the decline of American communal participation through shrinking bowling league membership, Klinenberg’s basement of virtual bowlers illustrates how technology might actually enhance our social fabric — provided there are supportive spaces. Given what we have learned about the health impacts of social isolation among the elderly, lives may depend on creating more such opportunities.”

This vision of the technology-rich public library supporting place-based play among America’s aging population is remarkably optimistic.

Library Lanes Xbox Bowling at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library in 2014. Image courtesy Gregg Richards, Brooklyn Public Library.

 

How can you get involved?

Not every community has a Library Lanes program, but almost every community has a public library. If you want to bring playful aging to your public library, start with a conversation. I’ve written five steps anyone can take to do more by “Partnering with public libraries.” Use that to get started.

You may also want to check out the American Library Association’s compilation of best practices for public librarians serving older adults. You’ll see Lifetime Art’s Creative Aging Toolkit for Public Libraries prominently featured, which suggests how widespread the ideas in this blog post have become.

Nevertheless, public librarians need your help. Librarians need people in arts councils, parks & recreation, and elsewhere, to work with them to complement what they may be able to offer by themselves. So reach out, start a conversation, and form a partnership, because you’re never too old to play at the library, and you’re never too old to start a conversation with your local librarians.


About the Author: Noah Lenstra, PhD, is Director of Let’s Move in Libraries and assistant professor of Library & Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Learn more about Noah at noahlenstra.com and follow him on Twitter at @NoahLenstra

About the Summer PLAY Blog Series: This summer we are featuring some great PLAY resources with our 2021 Summer PLAY Blog Series, starring two invited play partners as our content experts.  PLAY is important no matter what season it is…so NO SUMMER LEARNING LOSS here!  In July, Noah Lenstra, Director of Let’s Move in Libraries, will highlight public library play initiatives for several key demographics.  In August, Daniel Hatcher, Director of Community Partnerships for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, will blog on “PLAY for Healthier Communities.”


Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out at the Library: Play for Teens and Emerging Adults

Summer Blog Series – Libraries & PLAY #2

“Play for Teens and Emerging Adults”

In 2016, the American Library Association published the book Adults Just Wanna Have Fun: Programs for Emerging Adults, which “shows how to draw emerging adults to the library using a mixture of play and engagement and then keep them coming back for more.”

Public libraries exist to serve all ages, and yet there is a stereotype that people “age out” of libraries before returning later in life when they have young children.

Given this reality, public librarians increasingly embrace play as a cornerstone of services for tweens, teens, and young, childless adults.

This trend is a bit more wooly and disorganized than the trend covered last week on Learning and Playing at the Library during Early Childhood. When it comes to supporting play among teens and emerging adults, public librarians do not have formal curricula like Every Child Ready To Read and Stories, Songs & Stretches. Instead, the landscape is populated by myriad local experiments.

In Dubuque, Iowa, on April 7, 2018, the public library celebrated “Five years of Nerf capture the flag,” a monthly after-hours program in which adults literally play capture the flag in the stacks of the public library.

Caption: A participant in the monthly Nerf Capture the Flag for adults program offered at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, Iowa. Image courtesy The Telegraph Herald.

 

As public libraries re-open in Summer 2021, this program has started to return. In nearby Indianola, Iowa, the local radio station reports that “The Indianola Public Library Nerf Attack events are returning to the library on July 16, 2021. Nerf Attack is one of the most popular events, with kids in grades 6-12 having the run of the library.”

Three important facts help us make sense of something as seemingly bizarre as Nerf wars in the library:

1) These programs fit within the increasing identity of the public library as a community hub, offering, as a recent American Library Association reports puts it, offering free “activities and

entertainment you can’t find anywhere else in the community,” while also functioning as “a place for people in the community to gather and socialize.”

2) Public libraries are fundamentally local institutions, with nearly 90% of their funding coming from local sources. I sometimes tell my students, “If you know one public library, you know one public library.” One of the least appreciated facts about public librarianship is, as Eric Klinenberg recently pointed out in his book Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life “library staff ha[ve] more autonomy to develop new programming than I’d expected from an established public institution. Managers, it seems, assume the best of their librarians” (p. 52).

3) Given the long-standing idea that public libraries are not cool spaces for teens and emerging adults, radical thinking is needed to over-turn that stereotype. Milwaukee Public Library launched Library Loud Days focused on “changing the public libraries into lively, vibrant gathering places …. So come see what the new definition of a library is all about. And leave your inside voice at home.”

Caption: Adult Recess at the Public Library in Arlington, Virginia. Image courtesy Arlington VA Public Library.

 

As I present these facts, I often hear complaints from people who worry that the beloved libraries of their childhoods are going to be swept away by Nerf wars, rap battles, karaoke singers, and games of Twister and Quidditch.

That concern is misplaced. In all the libraries I have looked at, these types of loud play programs are typically offered sporadically, not continuously. They represent the type of playfulness that is quickly becoming the norm in public librarianship: Public librarians play with the identity of the public library, pushing on its boundaries and encouraging community members to join them in that experiment.

How can you get involved?

Want to increase access to play for tweens, teens, and emerging adults in your community? Start with the library! The best starting point is to look for individuals with titles like Teen Librarian. The national association representing Teen Librarians is the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) whose “mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.

Teen librarians have also pioneered library services for emerging adults. Typically, library services for adults in their 20s and 30s represents an extension of library services for tweens and teens.

YALSA’s website features a cornucopia of innovative resources around play and public libraries. For instance, check out this presentation on LARP at Your Library: Teaching Life Skills Through Play, presented by Shelbie Marks of Oklahoma’s Metropolitan Library System at a recent YALSA Symposium.

Spending some time perusing the YALSA website is a great way to inform yourself about how public librarians frame play as intrinsic to library services for this demographic.

You can then use that knowledge to reach out to your Teen Librarian, set up a time to talk, and see where the conversation takes you. Check out my guide on “Rules of the road: Partnering with public libraries for collective impact” to get started.

 


About the Author: Noah Lenstra, PhD, is Director of Let’s Move in Libraries and assistant professor of Library & Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Learn more about Noah at noahlenstra.com and follow him on Twitter at @NoahLenstra.

About the Summer PLAY Blog Series: This summer we are featuring some great PLAY resources with our 2021 Summer PLAY Blog Series, starring two invited play partners as our content experts.  PLAY is important no matter what season it is…so NO SUMMER LEARNING LOSS here!  In July, Noah Lenstra, Director of Let’s Move in Libraries, will highlight public library play initiatives for several key demographics.  In August, Daniel Hatcher, Director of Community Partnerships for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, will blog on “PLAY for Healthier Communities.”


Learning and Playing at the Library during Early Childhood

Summer Blog Series – Libraries & PLAY #1

“Learning and Playing at the Library during Early Childhood”

Since 2000, public librarians across the United States have dramatically increased the number of programs they offer in support of early childhood. The Public Library Association states this new focus on Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) transforms a pre-conception people may have about library programming: This new approach started not with reading, but with play: “We start with singing, talking, reading, writing and playing and then help [parents] see the connection to later reading.”

A team of researchers led by Susan B. Neuman, Professor of Early Childhood and Literacy Education at New York University, determined that public librarians trained in this ECRR curriculum “are much more likely [than those not trained] to include music and large- and small-motor movement [in their programs]—all contributing to a fun atmosphere that encourages parents and children to play together.”

As ECRR and related training programs, such as Stories, Songs, and Stretches and Mother Goose on the Loose, sweep the country, play has become central to how public librarians support early childhood.

Play spaces at libraries: Indoors and outside

This transformation effects not only public library programs, but also public library spaces. In Nashville, Tennessee, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, public libraries now have kid-sized climbing walls, with Studio Ludo working with the Free Library of Philadelphia to create what they call a “Playbrary: A new vision of the neighborhood library.

Nashville Public Library’s Crawl Wall in the context of its interactive children’s play area.
Image courtesy Nashville Public Library.

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, public library spaces closed to the public, but public library support for play as a core component of early childhood did not end. In my research, I found public librarians increasingly utilizing outdoor spaces during Summer 2020 to continue supporting play. In “Reimagining public library programming during a pandemic” my colleague Christine D’Arpa and I found that about one quarter of U.S. small and rural public libraries created temporary outdoor play spaces and programs that could be experienced in a socially distant during the pandemic, including things like sidewalk obstacle courses and life-sized Candy Land games.

Based on this research, with public health colleagues from Baylor University and Johns Hopkins University, we presented at the 2020 virtual meeting of the Association for Rural & Small Libraries on how public librarians can and do support Play Streets initiatives, place-based interventions that involve temporarily closing streets to create safe places and free opportunities for physical activity.

The focus of public librarians on fostering outdoor play during the COVID-19 pandemic builds on a long tradition of public librarians as placemaking gurus, as documented and supported since 2000 by the Project for Public Spaces.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2015 Jenn Beideman of Healthi Kids teamed up with Patty Uttaro, the director of the Rochester [NY] Public Library, and the Strong National Museum of Play for a series of projects focused on infusing play into the built environment of this city. These efforts culminated in a Play Walk that connects the library and the museum. The soaring success of this and other library collaborations led Beideman to write for the Brookings Institution on June 10, 2021 that “resident-led advocacy in Rochester, N.Y. is creating a more playful city … [by] partnering with the Rochester Public Library system to pilot playful infrastructure and other play initiatives.”

How can you get involved?

As the above example suggests, public librarians do not do this work by themselves. Instead they are looking for help wherever they can find it! A study in Ontario led by a team of kinesiologists found that public librarians can be successfully trained to lead a Move 2 Learn program focused on play-based physical literacy skills among young children: “The results of this study demonstrated the feasibility of teaching staff without specialized training in physical education to implement Move 2 Learn.

More and more researchers, advocates, and policy makers are coming to the same conclusion: Namely that public librarians are the perfect partners in efforts to increase playful learning during early childhood.

What stands in the way of these partnerships? One factor is the rapid nature of this transformation. Although public librarians have supported playful learning for decades – think of the idea of getting out your wiggles after a storytime program — what is new is that now play is increasingly the central focus of library programs and spaces.

Many in the Play Community who have not been paying attention to this shift may need to start their involvement by educating themselves about the work public librarians now do to support early childhood. The easiest way to get started is to simply go to the website or social media of your local public library.

In preparing this blog post, out of curiosity I went to my local library’s website and clicked on the link for services for Children & Parents. This image was what I found:

Children’s librarian Pete Turner leads a play-based storytime at Greensboro Public Library.
Image courtesy: Greensboro Public Library.

 

Get started by simply seeing how your library describes its services in support of early childhood. You may find play allies you had never considered.

If you’re looking for collaborators look for librarians with titles like children’s librarian, early literacy librarian, or youth services librarian. I went to the About Us page for the Greensboro Public Library and easily found the contact information for Tanika Martin, the library’s Youth Services Coordinator. Find your community’s Tanika, set up a time to chat, and structure the conversation around the following: “Here’s what we’re trying to do. Does that sound similar to your goals? Where can we work together?”

If you’d like to learn more, check out my article on Rules of the road: Partnering with public libraries for collective impact.

In future blog posts, we’ll look at how similar transformations are taking place in public librarianship around library services for teenagers/emerging adults and for older adults. Stay tuned to learn more and to find ways to get involved!


About the Author: Noah Lenstra, PhD, is Director of Let’s Move in Libraries and assistant professor of Library & Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Learn more about Noah at noahlenstra.com and follow him on Twitter at @NoahLenstra

 

This summer we are featuring some great PLAY resources with our 2021 Summer PLAY Blog Series, starring two invited play partners as our content experts.  PLAY is important no matter what season it is…so NO SUMMER LEARNING LOSS here!  In July, Noah Lenstra, Director of Let’s Move in Libraries, will highlight public library play initiatives for several key demographics.  In August, Daniel Hatcher, Director of Community Partnerships for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, will blog on “PLAY for Healthier Communities.”


Inaugural Health & PLAY Online Institute Available ON DEMAND

The inaugural Health & PLAY Online Institute is a webinar series featuring leading healthcare professionals and researchers from across the country.  Recorded sessions are available ON DEMAND.

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

Each panel presentation examines the synergies between play and health through five distinct pillars (and a bonus opportunity for our attendees):

  • The Science of Play: What We Know
  • Healthcare Professionals’ Wellbeing: Burnout, Compassion Fatigue and Play
  • The Role of Play in Society
  • Using Play as Bridge Between Technologies
  • Play and the Ecosystem of Health
  • Bonus Session: A Conversation with some of the “stars” of the documentary Playing for Keeps

Speaker details and Registration information is below.


Meet Our Experts

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 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 his role as a Steering Committee Member for the US Play Coalition, Dr. Suk helped to create the Health and PLAY Consortium that aims to build momentum in exploring and promoting the VALUE of play as a tool for improving health.   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

Examining the history of play science and its relationship to human interaction, brain development and as a potential medical intervention

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

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.”

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

Exploring the role of play from a population viewpoint and the role of nonprofit advocacy groups.

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

Looking at health technology platforms and discussing how aspects of “Play” can be a bridge to consumer engagement and/or better health outcomes.

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, 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

Considering the role of play in addressing the social determinants of health and the role of non-profit advocacy groups and health foundations.

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.

Nancy Katz is Senior Director of Content and Partnerships at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, where she oversees technical assistance services and resources for schools and out-of-school time sites as they work to achieve healthy and supportive environments for students and staff. Nancy oversees a team of subject matter experts in physical education and physical activity, nutrition, tobacco/vaping prevention, school and out-of-school time policy, and food systems and food access. 

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.

 

 

Bonus Session: A Conversation with some of the “stars” of the documentary Playing for Keeps

In 2020, filmmaker Jamie Redford released a documentary about adults and play, shortly before passing away from cancer.  Redford said, “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.”

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.  (NOTE: Screening of the documentary is not part of the recorded session.  Check the film company’s social media and website for options if desired.)

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 Information for the Health and PLAY Online Institute

  • The Health and PLAY Online Institute is part of the 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL
  • 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.
REGISTER FOR THE HEALTH & PLAY INSTITUTE

The U.S. Play Coalition
Founded in 2009, the U.S. 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. Housed in Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department, part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, 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. Membership is free, and simply requires a declaration of shared commitment to the value of play through our “Get Involved” page.Learn more at usplaycoalition.org


Children’s Museums Mobilize with transformative programs to ensure that PLAY continues in the Isolation of COVID-19

One year ago, most children and families were thrown into sudden isolation – from the people and places they relied on for connection. Children’s museums were immediately impacted by COVID-related shutdowns but took adversity as an opportunity to ensure access for children and families most in need of the supports that play provides.

Wednesday, June 9, 11:00pm ET/10:00am PT
“Playing through Isolation: Children’s Museums Activating through a Pandemic”

This session features three museum leaders sharing their organization’s transformative programs:

Laura Huerta Migus (moderator) is 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.

Dene Mosier, Kansas Children’s Discovery Museum in Topeka – Transformed their Free to Play program that connects incarcerated mothers with their children for play-based visitation to a kit-based program.

 

Kathy Parham, The Children’s Playhouse in Boone, NC – Play Kit project partners with social service agencies and schools to delivery kits to families in very rural environments with low connectivity and in financial distress.

 

Deb Gilpin, Madison Children’s Museum in Madison, WI – Sidewalk Surprises program turned public spaces that families could access while facilities like playgrounds and museums are still closed into multicultural playscapes.

 

Learn the impact and reach of each initiative and their respective wellbeing motivations and outcomes. These exemplars are important innovations to help expand our thinking about the when and where play takes place. As we face future situations, due to climate, politics, or another public health crisis, these organizations now have important lessons to carry with them into the future to ensure children and families have access to play.


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 December 31, 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 through December 31, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


2021 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research Winner – Robin C. Moore

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to announce the 2021 recipient of 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.

Robin C. Moore

Director, Natural Learning Initiative, NC State University

Robin C. Moore is an urban designer and design researcher, specializing in child and family urban environments that support healthy human development, informal play, and non-formal education. He is professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning and director of the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University.

Moore is author of numerous articles and several books, including Childhood’s Domain, Natural Learning, The Life History of an Environmental Schoolyard, and Plants for Play.  He has been recognized internationally for his contributions to the field of design, especially that of outdoor play facilities for children and families. Most recently, Moore received the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by NC State and the university’s Board of Trustees.

Robin Moore was nominated and ultimately selected for “his relentless efforts to promote design and research as driving forces for enhancing children’s environments by creating diverse opportunities of nature play and learning.”

Upon learning he had won this year’s award, Robin said, “What an incredible, wonderful surprise! Such an honor in Joe’s name and to be joining the company of Olga, Lynn, and Stuart. And the first designer so recognized, to boot—nice icing!”

His many nominations are a testament to Robin as a practitioner, educator, mentor and colleague:

“… his enthusiasm and energy to learn new things and share his knowledge with everyone involved and his passion to work tirelessly every day to transform mundane child environments into engaging and playful places to promote play, learning, health, and wellbeing.”

“… [his] international authority and excellent leadership in research and outreach for naturalizing children’s environments…inspiring ideas about how our common research goals could make the world a better place for children.”

“His innovative concepts have been implemented and embraced by parks and recreation professionals, landscape architects, and educators across the world.”

“What a gift he has been to the industry and countless numbers of children, families and communities that have been positively impacted by his collective body of work and research.”

 


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


May 25 #WePlayChat: How to Get Students Hours of Free Play at School Without Funding, Prep Work, or Effort

Join us on Twitter Tuesday, May 25 at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT for the next instalment of our monthly #WePlayChat.  We are honoured to welcome Kevin Steinhart from the Central Academy of the Arts to discuss the topic, “How to Get Students Hours of Free Play at School Without Funding, Prep Work, or Effort”.

Kevin teaches 4th grade at Central Academy of the Arts in Central, SC. He has his Masters of Arts in Teaching from Anderson University. He founded South Carolina’s first Play Club – an after school club for unstructured free play. Kevin’s classroom is a vibrant place where arts integration, play, and nature-based learning have propelled his students to new heights. His teaching methods have garnered attention from multiple universities who are now studying the results he’s finding, helped him achieve status as a South Carolina state teacher of the year candidate this year, and helped his school gain an international following.

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

Q1. Why should educators see free play as crucial?

Q2. How can schools help provide free play for their students?

Q3. What does starting a Play Club involve and what does it look like week to week?

Q4. Who should start a Play Club?

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!
________________________________________________________________________

#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 monthly chats constantly land in the top 10% of all Twitter chats happening globally.

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.


Play Therapy Miniseries Presented at the 2021 Virtual Play Conference

A special pair of presentations from Licensed Play Therapists to shed light on the therapeutic power of play.

Play Therapy Miniseries
Thursday, May 20

Registration is required (details below).
*Participants in the LIVE sessions may earn South Carolina LPC Continuing Education credits. (Recordings are not eligible for CE credits.)

Thursday, May 20, 12:00-1:30pm ET/9:00-10:30am PT
Part 1: Using Child Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) to Heal from Complex Trauma
Jennifer Geddes Hall, PhD, LPC

Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACES) which are traumatizing can cause serious detrimental effects to children. Therefore, it is imperative that professionals working with children are adequately trained to understand impacts of trauma on behavior and best practices for supporting resiliency. Attendees of this presentation will learn about trauma and its impacts on the brain and behavior of children (Liberman, Van Horn, & Ozer, 2005; Terr, 2013) as well as how to promote resiliency. Play therapy has been proven to be a statistically effective means of treating externalizing and internalizing problems in children across issues and settings (Bratton, et. al, 2005; Ray, 2011). Additionally, applying basic principles of Child Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) and the benefits of utilizing CCPT to heal trauma will be reviewed (Green, Crenshaw, & Lolos, 2010; Hall, 2019; Kot, Landreth, & Giordano, 1998; Landreth, 2002). Attendees will be able to learn more about the research, rationale, and theory of play therapy as well as trauma and how play heals. The presentation will consist of didactic and group discussion components. Application of skills to various settings will be discussed.

 

Thursday, May 20, 4:00-5:30pm ET/1:00-2:30pm PT
Part 2: Play and Expressive Therapy Interventions for Enhancing Emotion Regulation
Christa Butler, LPC

The purpose of this training is to learn how to integrate play therapy interventions into the treatment of emotion dysregulation. In treating youth who have experienced trauma, skills for emotion regulation often becomes one of the primary needs of the treatment plan. We will define emotion regulation and the signs or symptoms that present as a result. Attendees will enhance understanding of the different states of arousal and the window of tolerance. This training will help therapists identify play-based interventions for enhancing emotion regulation.  Emotion regulation skills that incorporate play are fun, engaging, provide mind-body movement, sensory stimulation, and creative expression.  This training will review treatment interventions to be used with clients, parents, and family for systemically addressing emotion regulation.

 

NOTE: South Carolina LPC Continuing Education credits provided through SC Board Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Psychoeducational Specialists; Permanent CE Sponsor Approval #22.  These credits are only available to participants in the LIVE session detailed above. The recordings of the sessions are not eligible for LPC CEs.


This Play Therapy Miniseries 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 attendees will access the sessions in the Attendee Hub.  Each presentation will be recorded, so don’t fret if you miss the live session!

Register for the full Virtual Play Conference or choose the Play Therapy Miniseries ONLY option.

 

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!!!


#BlackGirlMagic Monday Series Available ON DEMAND through Dec 31

Exploring the shared living experiences of Black girls and women through play is vital.  The hashtag #BlackGirlMagic is used to express not only excellence and brilliance of black women but has led young girls and women to inspire one another, activate contextual awareness and grow in power together.

#BlackGirlMagic Mondays

Join host Corliss Outley, PhD, for a series of presentations and conversations that explore the magic of Black Girls play, highlighting spaces where Black girls can experience freedom, autonomy, and joy and validate their experiences in today’s society.

Each presentation was recorded live and is available ON DEMAND through December 31.  Registration is required (details below).

Monday May 3 at 12:00 noon (ET)/9:00 am (PT)
“Empowerment, Play & Black Girlhood through History”
Corliss Outley, PhD, Professor, Parks, Recreation & Tourism Mgmt
with Anitra Alexander, MS, Clemson University
From backyards to schoolyards to community parks, play has been intertwined with racial and sexual violence against Black girl’s bodies throughout American history. This discussion will provide a glimpse into the lived experiences of Black girls and the significance of play as sources of hope, healing, agency, and justice across US history. This introduction discussion serves as the jump off point for a deeper understanding of the series.

Monday, May 10 at 12:00 noon (ET)/9:00 am (PT)
“Black Girlhood, Agency & Play in the Outdoors”
Aby Sene-Harper, PhD, Assistant Professor, Parks, Recreation & Tourism Mgmt, Clemson University
The outdoors has historically been viewed as beneficial to both our mental, physical, and spiritual development. At the same time, for many Black girls and women, the outdoors have also been spaces where sexualized and racialized violence was heaped upon their womanhood to enact and enforce a white supremacist social order. Yet, through it all Black girls and women have also reclaimed outdoor spaces to conjure up innovative Black diasporic cultural practices of resistance, survival and self-determination. This presentation will discuss how PLAY in the outdoors for Black girls can be rooted in this long legacy of cultural of resistance and self-determination.

Monday, May 17 at 12:00 noon (ET)/9:00 am (PT)
“Raising Strong Daughters: The Impact of Daughter-Father Relationships in Play”
Daphne Harris, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Educational Psychology, University of North Texas
Given the vital role of Black fathers in the lives of Black girls, this talk will interrogate the daughter-father relationship in play and how it is used as a mechanism for bonding, socialization, and empowerment. Special attention will be given to Black fathers’ conceptualization of play and shared activities and how they use this time to create space for Black girls to freely explore and make sense of the world around them.

Monday, June 7 at 12:00 noon (ET)/9:00 am (PT)
“Afro-centric Dance & Intergenerational Play”
Sharon McKenzie, PhD, Asst. Professor, Recreation Therapy & Gerontology, Kean University
Historically in the African Diaspora, dance has played an intricate role in the cultural nuances and expressions of its people. From a cultural lens, general movements, ritualistic movements, and dance performances have been a catalyst for intergenerational exchange particularly between young girls and mature women. We will facilitate a discourse of the multiple realms and vital roles of dance in the lives of young girls and women.

Monday, June 14 at 12:00 noon (ET)/9:00 am (PT)
“Black Girlhood and Play: Where do we go from here?”
Aishia Brown, PhD, Asst Professor, School of Public Health & Information Sciences, University of Louisville
Play spaces and activities have been recognized for their significance in combating oppression by serving as spaces for resistance as well as healing for Black girls and women. These issues are not just historical but contemporary and relevant as illustrated in the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic. Representing the last discussion in the series, this workshop concludes with an overview of the role race, gender, and age play in the lived experiences of Black girls within play spaces. It will finalize by presenting strategies in order to better serve this population through the development of new policies and practices that are viewed as vital to the future of the field of play.


#BlackGirlMagic Mondays is part of the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play, featuring dozens of recorded headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations – available ON DEMAND through December 31, 2021.

Register for the full Virtual Play Conference or choose the #BlackGirlMagic Mondays ONLY option.

 

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.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


April 27 #WePlayChat: Making Space for Play in Community

Join us on Twitter Tuesday, April 27 at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT for the next instalment of our monthly #WePlayChat.  We are honoured to welcome Shimira Williams from The Beauty of S.T.E.M to the main stage to discuss the topic, “Making Space for Play in Community”.

Shimira Williams is an authentic change agent that builds digital citizens through play and productivity. She integrates digital media literacy, tools, and learning materials to harness the power of technology, extending learning opportunities, and retooling business operations in early learning environments. ​Her vision for technology seeks to improve people’s ability to communicate and collaborate and to allow people to focus on the human-to-human connection.

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

Q1. How can play help children and the grown-up in their life build trust for long-lasting relationships?

Q2. What are ways play helps build a trusting relationship amongst peers (in school and at work)?

Q3. Who do you play with in your own community and why?

Q4. Where and when do you make time for play in your community? 

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!
________________________________________________________________________

#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 monthly chats constantly land in the top 10% of all Twitter chats happening globally.

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.