Landscape Structures – For a Better Tomorrow We Play Today

We recently launched a campaign that we hope will start a new dialogue in the playground industry. It asks all of us to consider why we invest in our children, playgrounds and in play. With the greater impact of play on children and our communities in mind, we created a video that puts a spotlight on what we at Landscape Structures all instinctively know but don’t always put into words: For a better tomorrow, we play today.

Play is, of course, valuable because it encourages physical fitness and fun. However, we believe the playground instills deeper values in children like leadership, perseverance and cooperation. It’s these values that ultimately shape the adults they become and the reason why we are so dedicated to bringing play to all children. Watch our video and learn more about the campaign at shapedbyplay.com. If you feel a connection to the message, share it with your online followers and tell everyone how you’ve been #shapedbyplay.


Featured Sessions Announced for 2017 Conference on the Value of Play

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

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

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

“Designing a Practice of Play”
Dan Harding, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Architecture and Community Design+Build
Clemson University

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

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

“The Future of Schoolyards and Strategies to Work with School Communities to Get Things Funded and Built”
Bambi Yost, Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture,  Iowa State University, will share lessons learned from  her time as Project Manager and researcher on Denver Public School’s Learning Landscapes schoolyards.

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

More featured sessions to be announced in the coming weeks.
Check the conference site often for updates and news!

 

January 2017 #WePlayChat: Play Based Experiential Learning

Join us Friday, January 27 at 1:00pm EST as we welcome Amowi Phillips to our #WePlayChat on “Play Based Experiential Learning.” Amowi  has a life-long interest in children, play, culture and design in African contexts. She is a strong advocate for securing kid-friendly public cultural spaces in urban Africa. She works as a social innovator and concept team leader through Mmofra Foundation on Playtime in Africa, a children’s park and natural learning project in Accra, Ghana which is the only one of its kind in the country.

Here are the chat questions that will guide our dialogue:

Q1. What are some global examples of play-based experiential learning (#PBXL)?
Q2. In your community, how is learning from play valued?
Q3. What environments work best for playful hands-on learning?
Q4. How can child-centered design and public spaces promote playful learning? 

#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the wide open field of play. Launched in 2016, our #WePlayChat participants come from 7 countries, spanning 4 continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through our #WePlayChat.  We have our chats at different times on different days to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in the conversation around the value of play. This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from the across the globe.


#WePlayChat: A Year In Review

In 2016, the US Play Coalition launched a monthly Twitter chat, dubbed #WePlayChat. #WePlayChat is a FREE professional development opportunity for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the wide open field of play. #WePlayChat also serves as a platform to engage and network with other organizations and individuals through social media. There was great discussion throughout the year – each month with a different play themed topic and chat moderators who used their unique experience and expertise to facilitate the dialogue.

With the first successful year of our #WePlayChat in the books, we wanted to take a moment to share

The top tweets of #WePlayChat2016!

Thank you to all of those individuals, partners, sponsors and organizations who have been a critical part of our #WePlayChat learning opportunities this past year. We are excited to continue the conversation in 2017 and beyond. Join us for #WePlayChat2017! Find us on Twitter @USPlayCoalition


US Play Coalition to honor Joe Frost with Inaugural Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

Dr. Joe L. Frost, Ed.D, L.H.D., is one of America’s leading experts on play and playgrounds and has a global reputation as the contemporary father of play advocacy.  He is the Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus at The University of Texas at Austin with a passion for children’s play and play spaces.  Joe has been an influential member of the US Play Coalition’s steering committee since its humble beginnings.  He has served as moderator at the 2009 Summit on the Value of Play and then as honorary conference chair for each successive play conference.  Joe Frost has been an influencer for our organization’s work as well as for the world of play.  Along with his wife Betty, Joe attends US Play Coalition events whenever he can!

At the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play, the US Play Coalition will present the inaugural Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research.  This is to be awarded annually in recognition of a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play.  It only makes sense that Joe will be the first recipient!

Each year the recipient of the Joe Frost Award will receive not only a physical award, but also conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the Play Conference. To all of Joe’s friends, family, colleagues, students and admirers, we hope you will consider supporting the new award with a tribute donation to the Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research with a tax-deductible contribution today!


The Genius of Play Becomes “Play Collaborator” with the US Play Coalition

The Genius of Play, the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) research-backed initiative to bring more play into kids’ lives, has engaged in a new partnership to become a play collaborator with the US Play Coalition.

The Genius of Play will be a highly visible partner and participate in a featured educational session during the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play, as it continues to spread its message about the important developmental benefits of play.

“We are thrilled to be able to partner with the US Play Coalition on their biggest event, the annual conference on the value of play!” said Anna Yudina, TIA’s director of marketing initiatives. “By becoming a play collaborator with the coalition, The Genius of Play will be able to reach hundreds of play professionals and advocates to help amplify our message of raising happier and healthier kids through the power of play. What’s more, our missions are perfectly aligned, which means there will be many opportunities to collaborate on various initiatives in the future.”

Stephanie Garst, executive director of the US Play Coalition, said: “We are excited to break new ground with our play collaboration with The Genius of Play. You can’t think of children and toys without thinking of play…it just makes sense! We are big fans of the work The Genius of Play is doing on social media to educate people on the meaning and the value of play. It is this work that truly brought us together.”

The US Play Coalition’s annual Conference on the Value of Play brings together leading play researchers, park and recreation professionals, educators, health scientists, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the country. The three-day event includes keynote and featured speakers, play institutes, PLAYtalks, research symposium, educational sessions, roundtables, grant opportunities, networking, and opportunities for play.

 


KaBoom! CEO to give PLAYtalk at 2017 Conference on the Value of Play

james-siegal_head-shot

Our next PLAYtalk presenter is determined to bring play everywhere, especially to low-resource communities in the United States.  James Siegal is CEO of KaBOOM!, the national non-profit that seeks to give all kids the childhood they deserve, filled with play.  KaBOOM! is dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.

James Siegal says that, in addition to building play spaces in low-income neighborhoods, KaBOOM! urges local leaders to take steps to create equitable, kid-friendly cities.  “The conversations about improving cities all too often ignore the needs of kids and families,” he says.

Most recently, KaBOOM! hosted The Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million competkaboom-logo-tagline-1200x630ition to help kids access innovative play spaces.

For his PLAYtalk, James will discuss “Transforming Every Day Spaces into PLAYces”.

PLAYtalks are our Play Conference version of TED Talks. They will be a series of 15-20 minute dynamic, entertaining, enlightening, engaging, inspiring, informative talks by thought leaders in the play world.

Learn more about the conference by clicking here.

Early bird registration is now open!


Inaugural Youth Development Practitioner Award to be Given at 2017 Conference on the Value of Play

The US Playli-large-logoy Coalition is pleased to partner with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute for their first ever 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 inaugural recipient will be named at the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play in Clemson, SC.

According to Stephen Lance, Executive Director of Youth Learning Institute, “There are many deserving practitioners across the nation and our goal is to bring recognition to this field of service.”

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2016 Youth Development Practitioner Award.  Deadline for nominations is December 15, 2016. The winner of the 2017 Youth Development Practitioner Award will be notified in mid-January and recognized at the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play at Clemson University, April 2-5, 2017.  The winner will have conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the Play Conference.

2017 Youth Development Practitioner Award Application Process

Purpose:
To recognize outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.

Eligibility:
Must have operated a youth development program or service within the United States for at least 10 or more years.

Evaluation Criteria:
Applicants should show evidence of as many of met criteria in their submitted statement.

  • Accomplishments serve as an example for other youth serving programs.
  • Program/service demonstrates best practices and a nurturing culture that supports inclusivity and human resilience.
  • Outreach efforts promote youth development programs and encourage support and participation from the community at-large.
  • Equips young people to lead and serve, through direct work with youth and by training other practitioners.
  • Demonstrates positive impact on lives of young people and leads by example.
  • Demonstrates high level of leadership, professionalism and integrity in the field of youth development.
  • Strengthens the field of youth work by providing quality training opportunities for youth workers to maximize their investment in young people.
  • Focuses on attempts to improve the quality of youth services by providing training standards and improving program function.
  • Shares best practices with other youth practitioners or serves as a liaison in the community to create a network of participation and sharing of ideas/knowledge.
  • Program/service demonstrates exceptional commitment to public service and/or educational leadership.

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


Powerful LiiNK Project is Another Beneficiary of Giving TuesPLAY Funds

Giving TuesPLAY is TODAY! When you donate to the US Play Coalition, you will be helping to fund our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement.

reserach grant winners 2016Debbie Rhea and Alexander Rivchun from Texas Christian University were the 2016 Research Grant winners for their work on the LiiNK Project.  The LiiNK team has been making headlines with their incredible work to get more and more frequent recess in the daily school schedukids-on-climbing-rings le. Their successes in Texas elementary schools have gone viral!

The LiiNK Project (Let’s inspire innovation ‘N Kids) is in its fourth year overall and its second year in public schools (14 elementary schools total). We were very fortunate to receive a research grant from the U.S. Play Coalition to continue our work in the public schools to improve learning through play and character building. LiiNK’s intervention encompasses three aspects: 1) teacher and administrator training on how and why the combination of unstructured, outdoor play and character development are important to the school day; 2) implementing four-15 minute unstructured, outdoor play sessions daily in the schools; 3) implementing four- 15 minute character development lessons weekly in the schools. The research grant funds were used this year to help implement this intervention in 10 more elementary schools at the grades K and 1 levels.kids-on-playground-structure

Schools have become so focused on learning outcomes and assessment tools that little regard has been given to the social, emotional, and physical health of our children. As a result, teachers and administrators do not know how to allow more flexibility in the school day for unstructured play and social emotional learning due to academic time constraints daily. We have been able to train LiiNK teachers and administrators to think differently about how to integrate play and character into the school day without losing learning time. The results that we have collected are amazing in all aspects for the child and the teacher. Different results that will be highlighted in the presentation are BMI trends over a two year period, behavior shifts in the classroom, attentional fatigue trends, and reading/writing score outcomes.

To supkids-on-swingsport great projects like this, make sure to donate to the US Play Coalition TODAY!  Time is ticking for #GivingTuesPLAY!

 

 


Giving TuesPLAY supports Child-Centered Play at University of Florida

Giving TuesPLAY is TODAY! When you donate to the US Play Coalition, you will be helping to fund our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement.

Sondra Smlearning-to-playith and her team at the University of Florida were 2016 Action Grant Recipients.ready-to-play

With their grant, the university has created child-centered play time at TWO elementary schools in their area! Both of these schools serve children who are high needs, and the program works with 18 children at this time. Play is fun for these kids with toys, puppets, and other activities, but it is also an important part in their counseling. Graduate students in the university’s counselor education program are learning about the value of play in counseling children as they work with the students at these schools.

To support great projects like this, make sure to donate to the US Play Coalition TODAY!