Play Pioneers Stuart Brown and Peter Gray to Keynote 10th Anniversary Play Conference

Play pioneers and US Play Coalition “firsts” to keynote for the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR LIFE, March 31-April 3, 2019, in Clemson, SC.

Stuart Brown, MD, our very first keynote speaker (2009) and Peter Gray, PhD, our first ever PLAYtalk presenter (2016) return to our main stage to tackle the theme of “PLAY FOR LIFE,” reflect on the last decade of the play movement, and give insights into the next decade.

“This is truly a presentation by our play heroes!” says US Play Coalition executive director Stephanie Garst.  “It is also another first – the first time they’ve ever spoken TOGETHER!  This is definitely a MUST SEE!”

Stuart Brown, MD, was the very first keynote speaker at the 2009 Summit on the Value of Play (the precursor to the Conference on the Value of 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. His 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 was the instigator and Executive Producer of the three-part PBS series, “The Promise of Play,” and coproduced the BBC-PBS series “Soul of the Universe.” His experience as a medical administrator, producer, and scientific consultant or creator to numerous other productions on Joseph Campbell, Cosmology, Animal Play, and Stress, plus his scientific and popular writings have identified him as the foremost “practical champion of the knowledge of play.” Dr. Brown’s book: Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul has been translated into twelve languages. He 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. In addition to regular creative scholarly contributions for the PlayCore company, he 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.”

Peter Gray, PhD, is a research professor of psychology at Boston College, has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education.  He is author of an internationally acclaimed introductory psychology textbook (Psychology, Worth Publishers, now in its 8thedition), which views all of psychology from an evolutionary perspective.

Gray’s recent research focuses on the roles 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 recent 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, 2013). He also authors a popular blog called Freedom to Learn, for Psychology Today magazine.

Gray is a founding member and president of the nonprofit Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE), which is aimed at creating a world in which children’s natural ways of learning are facilitated rather than suppressed.  He is also a founding board director of the nonprofit Let Grow, the mission of which is to renew children’s freedom to play and explore outdoors, independently of adults.

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, park and recreation professionals, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The three day event includes keynote and featured speakers, round tables on critical issues and trends, research symposium for academics, educational sessions for practitioners, action and research grant opportunities, PLAYtalks and PLAYinstitutes, networking, EPIC play breaks and more.