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 Inaugural Fran P. Mainella Play Conference Scholarship Winners

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to announce the recipients of its inaugural Fran P. Mainella Play Conference Scholarship. This brand new scholarship program is named for our founder Fran P. Mainella, the first woman to serve as Director of the US National Park Service and one of America’s leading play advocates.  The scholarship was established to honor her vision, passion, leadership and playful spirit that founded and guided our organization in its first decade.  It will be awarded annually to new professionals, young professionals, and new-to-play professionals that could not otherwise attend the conference.

Meet the Inaugural Recipients of the Fran P. Mainella Play Conference Scholarship for the 2020 ONLINE Conference on the Value of Play:

Christine Alexander is executive assistant of Let’s Play America in Takoma Park, MD.  She believes that play is “a distinctly human experience, a happening that we can all understand and share regardless of background, age, ability, or point of entry.”  Christine believes strongly that play is NOT just for children.  “Despite all that we know about the value of play in human development, when faced with the observation and potential for judgment from our peers, adults will forego child-led play-based learning in order to avoid the chaos of free play. This blatant devaluation of play is what drives me to advocate for accessible free play opportunities for all stages of human development.”

Jennifer Beasley is a mental health practitioner at Cochran Elementary School in Louisville, KY.  According to Jennifer, play is essential to her work.  “In my opinion, helping children regulate their emotions and solve problems is best done through play.”  Jennifer hopes to learn to advocate for children’s play in educational systems and in public policy as well as learn how to further collaboration between the field of art therapy and the diverse disciplines represented by the Play Conference.

Alicia Chiaravalli is an environmental consultant and freelance designer from the Detroit area.  She is also continuing her education in a Design for Play program within Industrial Design.  As a student of play design, Alicia’s definition of play is constantly evolving.  “Play can take many forms, be deeply personal and often intra-personal, but the expression of play is irrefutably transcendent.” The Play Conference affords her the opportunity to connect with designers, artists, practitioners, historians, theorists and craftspeople who are similarly concerned with how play can contribute to the public good.

Tia Reid is from Stone Mountain, Georgia, where she is program director of At the Table Community Development Inc.  She is currently working on a project to intentionally integrate student-led play opportunities into the classroom of the Title One schools in her surrounding communities. As a former PreK teacher, Tia knows the value of play in the classroom, but in elementary schools she often faces feedback that questioned the challenge and rigor or lessons infused with meaningful play.  For Tia, the Play Conference provides the research and resources she needs “to educate and encourage my colleagues in the fight toward educational equity…I hope to learn valuable strategies for influencing challenging learning environments that fail to see the value of play.”

Lauren Willis is director of the Preschool at Holly Springs Center, a community effort to bring a quality play-based preschool program to rural Pickens County, South Carolina. “We know that play is valuable, because we see the benefits everyday, but we’d love to learn the Hows and Whys. I’m eager to learn more ways to help my staff develop and implement new ways to bring play to our students, and I feel that the PLAY Conference is an amazing opportunity to do this.”

 


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 has been moved ONLINE for 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our first-ever online Play Conference!

Join the 2020 Online Conference on the Value of Play through December 15.

Learn more at usplaycoalition.org/playconference2020


2020 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research Winner – Stuart Brown, MD

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to announce the 2020 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.  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 until his passing in early 2020.

 

2020 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research Winner
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.”

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.”

 


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


Now Accepting Nominations for the 2020 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

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 2020 award winner will be named at the 2020 Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR ALL in Clemson, SC.

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 has been 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 is a fitting tribute.”

Frost is the Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. He 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 has been an honorary chair for each successive conference.

The 2019 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research was presented to Lynn A. Barnett, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Recreation, Sport & Tourism at the University of Illinois and a Fellow in the Academy of Leisure Sciences.

Dr. Barnett has had a long and sustained record of contributions to the study of play throughout her career, which started in the 1970s. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including books, scholarly journals, technical reports, and papers at professional meetings. In addition to her own scholarship, she has contributed to the study of play through activities such as serving on the editorial board of several journals, including Play Theory and Research, Play and Culture, and Play Research International. She has also taught multiple courses (at both the graduate and undergraduate level) related to play, including Play Across the Lifespan, Play Theories and Their Implications, Play and Leisure, and Humor as Play.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2020 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research.  Deadline for nominations is December 15, 2019. The 2020 winner will be notified in mid-January and recognized at the 2020 Conference on the Value of Play at Clemson University, March 29-April 1, 2020.  The winner will have conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the Play Conference.

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.


US Play Coalition Announces 2019 Award Winners

The US Play Coalition recognized exceptional researchers, practitioners and play projects at its 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play, held at Clemson University between March 31 and April 3, 2019.

Every year the US Play Coalition, a national organization headquartered at Clemson University, recognizes play researchers and practitioners who have made significant contributions to the knowledge of play, and practitioners and projects that help further play in their communities and beyond.

 

2019 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research Winner – Lynn A. Barnett, Ph.D.
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.

Lynn A. Barnett, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Recreation, Sport & Tourism at the University of Illinois is the 2019 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research recipient. Dr Barnett is also a Fellow in the Academy of Leisure Sciences.

Dr. Barnett has had a long and sustained record of contributions to the study of play throughout her career, which started in the 1970s. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including books, scholarly journals, technical reports, and papers at professional meetings. In addition to her own scholarship, she has contributed to the study of play through activities such as serving on the editorial board of several journals, including Play Theory and Research, Play and Culture, and Play Research International. She has also taught multiple courses (at both the graduate and undergraduate level) related to play, including Play Across the Lifespan, Play Theories and Their Implications, Play and Leisure, and Humor as Play.

 

2019 Youth Learning Institute’s Youth Development Practitioner Award Winner – Flo Brett
Flo Brett 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.

Brett founded the Effective Leadership Academy (in Warrensville Heights, OH) in 2008, after emigrating to the United States. The Academy and its 135 partners (and counting) has helped more than 20,000 students learn “real world” skills they need to be successful after they graduate. The program works directly with young people and their teachers to help them learn the skills they need to face adult life responsibly, ethically, and competently. Brett has also designed and facilitated professional development opportunities for teachers and youth workers, helping them to support their students’ holistic development in and out of the classroom. She shares best practices with other youth practitioners and community leaders to create a collaborative information and knowledge sharing network.

 

 

The U.S. Play Coalition
The U.S. Play Coalition is an international network of individuals and organizations that promotes the value of play throughout life. Formed in 2009, the coalition is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The coalition is housed in Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department, part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.