2022 Summer Blog Series – Making Space for Play

Summer Blog Series
Play and Design #1

Making Space for Play

In 2015, my family was transferred to London. We packed up ourselves, our one-year-old, our two cats, and embarked on an adventure in a new city for six months. Knowing no one, and with little guidance on how to transition from full-time career to full-time caretaker, I started researching my options.

Luckily for us, London is a city designed for families. There are black cabs with seats that fold up so you can push a stroller straight inside, plentiful buses and trains with priority seating, rooms in all public buildings for changing and feeding, well-designed and maintained playgrounds within walking distance of most residents, and my favorite of all, children’s centers in every neighborhood.

At that time, the British government believed strongly in supporting not only children, but also their caregivers. The environment of the city reflected that belief and investment. Things were zoned for us, designed for us, and considered for us. Most playgrounds had cafes, for caffeine and snacks, and restrooms with baby changes in all gendered restrooms. The children’s centers had structured play times for all ages, and adult support groups with tea and information on children’s development. A key part of that development is play, but the key to great play is happy caregivers that allow it to happen.

Making space for play is not just about creating a place for play to happen. It is about making space within ourselves, giving time and energy, showing children love and support, and engaging with them in a way that allows play to flow freely. But that engagement cannot happen if that caregiver is not filled up themselves. You cannot pour from an empty cup. And far too many caregivers are down to their last drop.

Shortly after returning from London, I started a non-profit, Studio Ludo, with the mission of building better play through research, advocacy, and design. Our studies of play behavior span over 100 play environments in the US and UK and include data on the play habits of over 60,000 people. Our biggest finding is that more than half of people in playgrounds are not children…but teens, adults, and seniors. This resonates with us in a big way. How do we support and bring joy to this undesigned for half? How do we replicate the types of environments and experiences that I had as a caregiver, helping them to fill their cups and give them space to play?

We believe that everyone deserves a great place to play. And everyone means not just kids, but caregivers too. We design playgrounds with whole families in mind, with restrooms, and benches in the shade, and cafes, along with open-ended scaled-up swings and climbing structures that invite adults in on the fun.

We also know that play can happen anywhere, which is why we recently opened our loose parts play library, the Playbrary, overflowing with art supplies, toys, recyclables, cardboard, games, and other loose materials (think baskets of pez dispensers and rows of typewriters). Interspersed in the fun are comfy chairs, free coffee, and staff trained in play and development, happy to provide some adult conversation or play with your child while you rest.

While this may seem like a little slice of play utopia for the young people in your life, we believe it is essential for the grownups too. Caregivers deserve care. They are in the trenches, raising a generation on very little sleep and reheated coffee. Let’s make space for them. They are deserving of all the praise…and maybe a little play too.

 


About the Author: Meghan Talarowski is the Founder and Executive Director of Studio Ludo. Meghan believes that play environments in the United States can, and should, be better. She has degrees in architecture and landscape architecture, almost 20 years of experience in the design field, is a licensed landscape architect, and a certified playground safety inspector. Her research focuses on how the design of play environments impacts physical health and social behavior of children and caregivers. She has presented at TEDx Philadelphia, ASLA, AIA, IPA, the US Play Coalition, and Child in the City. She was a winner in the 2016 international Play Space design competition, a winner in the 2016 Kaboom Play Everywhere Challenge, and a finalist for two projects in the 2015 Knight Cities Challenge. She is a member of the steering committee for the US Play Coalition and a member of the board for Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse.

About the Summer PLAY Blog Series: This summer we are featuring some great PLAY resources with our 2022 Summer PLAY Blog Series, starring two invited play partners as our content experts; Liz McChesney and Meghan Talarowski. Our experts will be sharing blog posts with you throughout the months of July and August.


Earn up to 9 credits with Online LACES Play Series through Aug 10

For our landscape architect friends, we are excited to announce the REBOOT of our Online LACES Play Series!  Earn up to 9 LACES credits online and ON DEMAND through August 10, 2022.

Thank you to our partner – the South Carolina Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects. These fine folks work hard to ensure we can provide LACES CEUs for the relevant conference sessions. Glad to have you on our Play Team, ASLA-SC!

Check out the list of LACES approved sessions:

  • “All Ages, All Abilities, All the Time” – Jill Moore White
    Parks today face the challenge of providing environments where all visitors can feel safe, secure and fully engaged. Universal design increases usability, safety, health and social participation. In this presentation, participants will discover how applying the principles of universal design ultimately contribute to social equity and social sustainability in parks.
  • “Designing Everyday Spaces for Children” – Shweta Nanekar, PLA, LEED AP (BD+C)
    How do we modify current approaches to the design of everyday spaces to make them more child-friendly? Available literature on child-friendly environments is reviewed to identify empirical research and project examples that can help designers and planners to create spaces that cater to the “Whole Child.”
  • “Future of Play: Technology Integration” – David Flanigan, CPSI
    We all know that kids are spending countless hours in front of a screen, not only for gaming and social media, but due to COVID, many kids are attending school virtually. What will the future be like for kids if they are addicted to their screens and don’t want to go outside and play?
  • “Healthy Communities, Parks and Splashpads” – Sarah Shepherd
    As demographics, inclusiveness and health concerns evolve, aging facilities need to step up their game to keep communities engaged and active.  Explore effective community infrastructure through the lens of aquatic play. Discover how Splashpads increase park usage, promote inclusion and build social capital that help communities grow and flourish.
  • “The Importance of Failure in Play” – Melinda Pearson
    Failure is an inevitable part of life. By creating play spaces that push boundaries in thinking and stretch the limitations of our bodies we create a safe play to explore our failures and learn great things about our growing selves and our budding potential in the process.
  • “Inclusive Playground Design:  A Case Study of Three New England Playgrounds” – Ingrid Kanics
    This presentation will share the research results of interviews with parents of children of all abilities around the design of three New England Inclusive Playgrounds. We will share what design features they feel make a playground inclusive and how these playgrounds impact the life of their communities, families and children.
  • “Making Connections: People, Places, and Physical Activity” – Ines Palacios, PhD
    Discover planning and design considerations to increase community connectivity, offer more enjoyable ways to be physically active outdoors, and create multigenerational destinations that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. Effectively champion and advocate for solutions to provide more affordable, accessible ways to activate healthy lifestyles and increase economic vitality.
  • “National Study of Playgrounds (2020)” plus a 2022 update! – Meghan Talarowski, MLA, CPSI, and Deborah A. Cohen, MD
    The National Study of Playgrounds (NSP), a joint research project of Studio Ludo and Dr. Deborah Cohen, is the first observational study of playgrounds to compare the impacts of playground design on play behavior and physical activity across gender, age group, and socio-economic status.
  • “Prototyping: Play Applied” – Aaron Goldblatt, Dana Schloss, Meghan Talarowski, Christopher Kircher
    Designers of all stripes occasionally use prototyping to test ideas and physical realities. This discussion advocates for moving the act from occasional to central to a practice and to understand it as an act of play. Designing through joyful exploration makes better spaces for everyone.

The LACES series is part of the online reboot of the 2022 Conference on the Value of Play: THE NATURE OF PLAY.


Earn up to 9 LACES credits!  Register for the Online LACES Series for ON DEMAND access through August 10, 2022.  (This will actually give you access to all of the content from the 2022 Conference on the Value of Play: THE NATURE OF PLAY!)

If you are already registered for the 2022 Play Conference Online Reboot, please reach out to us at usplaycoalition@clemson.edu for access to the session assessments.


The U.S. Play Coalition
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


2022 Summer Blog Series – True Play and Literacy Connect at the Library

Summer Blog Series
Libraries & PLAY #1

True Play and Literacy Connect at the Library

Public Libraries across the country are pursuing play as a critical pathway to learning. Connecting play to the mission of the public library is just one of the many ways public libraries are moving beyond the bricks and mortar repository of books and into an active laboratory of experiential learning. This approach emphasizes risk-taking, problem-solving, and the four critical 21st Century Skills: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. True Play is one of the most compelling forms of play in public libraries.

The idea of True Play—embracing the child’s deep and uninterrupted engagement in the activities of their choice— was developed by educator Ms. Chen Queqin in the public early childhood programs of Anji County, China. Anji Play, Ms. Cheng’s approach to early childhood education centers around five fundamental principles: love, risk, joy, engagement, and reflection. This philosophy asserts the right to True Play is essential to every child and profoundly respects the capacity of the individual child to play and work with others. Programs that embrace this approach provide children with large and open-ended materials like ladders, tires, and planks to play with as they wish. Educators, including librarians, follow this philosophy and seek to create “spaces of love” where materials, the environment, and adult decision-making all respond to children’s needs and abilities, particularly their need to play without adult guidance, direction, or interruption. For that reason, educators who put this philosophy into practice observe children playing with the adults “hands down, mouth shut, and ears, eyes and heart open to discover the true child.” This approach allows children to take authentic risks, including physical, emotional, social, and intellectual challenges, to experience joy and maintain meaningful and authentic engagement.

The Madison Public Library has pioneered this critical form of play in community-based settings at its “Wild Rumpus” events. True Play events come from years of research, visits to Anji County in China, and the creativity of librarian Carissa Christner and the Madison Public Library team who has worked to bring these events to life at her library.

Says Carissa, “learning happens when you can explore something interesting to you at your own pace and time. For us, this was a meaningful connection to the five practices of Early Literacy: Talk, Sing, Read, Write, and Play.” At Madison Public Library, finding meaningful intersections in how people learn while respecting individual diversity is critical. Carissa says: “Play is the most universal and accessible early literacy practice for a diverse community of learners. True Play is critical to our equity efforts.” Holly Storck-Post at Madison PL is thinking about how to develop elements of True Play inside the library that will be meaningful for babies and toddlers. She is helping to establish Play Labs which combine aspects of Anji Play into spaces for the youngest library users. “Creating open-ended experiences inside the library for our youngest children helps us make our spaces accessible to the entire community.”

True play is offered in libraries across the country, including Washington State where Kitsap Regional Library Director Jason Driver says, “approaching play from a place of true respect for the child and the child’s learning is at the heart of this approach and critical for its success.” In Kitsap, True Play Jamborees are planned to “develop early problem-solving, risk-assessment, and collaboration skills, all while having a blast.” Says “Emmon Rogers, Youth Services Librarian: “during COVID, kids have had limited social and learning connections. We wanted to tap into play to develop kids’ ability to form social bonds and take physical and social risks, all necessary for healthy human development and learning. Anji Play allows us to build all these skills and helps develop critical social networks that have gone missing these past two years.” Also critical to COVID recovery is helping parents and caregivers relearn how to stay flexible and allow chi

ldren to learn alternate paths to problem-solving. “COVID meant that only one pathway or tap root to social stability and learning was formed for kids,” says Emmon. “That was the family. At the height of COVID, our library’s greatest response was meeting basic needs like food. Now our greatest mission is fostering basic human social needs like connection, autonomy, agency, and social bonds.” Another aspect critical to the process of Anji Play is reflection. Reflection allows a child to close the learning cycle through digesting and understanding the play and its effects. Play stories are integral to the play process and can include dictation, writing or drawing the child’s stories, and photography or videography. Key to literacy development, the Play Stories develop numeracy, sequencing, vocabulary, inventive spelling, and narrative description. Professor Rebekah Willett, University of Wisconsin-Madison iSchool, and an observer of Madison Public Library’s True Play “The reflective component of Anji Play helps solidify some of the cognitive work that happens during play – both for the children and the parents. By pausing to observe and record play, participants can make explicit some of the implicit learning that happens during Anji Play.”

Bryan Wunar, CEO of Discovery World Science Museum in Milwaukee, WI, and noted STEM educator agrees: “Reflection allows learners to make meaning, analyze their actions and codify their learning. The type of reflection in True Play is also the habit of good STEM learners.” Reflection closes the learning cycle, and this process of Anji Play mirrors the Habits of Mind of a successful 21st Century learner. While True Play has many benefits for a growing learner, it is also a source of joy. Joy comes from risk-taking, problem-solving, working together, and being “in the flow.” Joy is intrinsic to learning and growing up to be a happy and well-adjusted person. Greg Mickells, CEO of Madison Public Library, may say it best: “True Play contains many elements fundamental to learning, including critical thinking, risk, and curiosity; but what I have witnessed with Anji Play is how important joy is to literacy. Having an opportunity that brings joy to learning should be an experience for all children.”

 


About the Author: Liz McChesney served as the Chicago Public Library Director of Children’s Services and Family Engagement, where she earned numerous national awards, including the American Library Service to Children Distinguished Services Recipient. She now serves as the Community Partnerships Consultant to the Laundry Cares Foundation, where she helps build early learning in everyday spaces such as laundromats, WIC Centers, and family courts. She additionally serves as a Senior Advisor to the Urban Libraries Council and is a Senior Fellow at the National Summer Learning Association. In all these roles, play is at the center of her work. She has two books with the American Library Association, Summer Matters: Making All Learning Count (2017) and Pairing STEAM with Stories (2019). Her first picture book, Keke’s Super Strong Double Hugs, was published in 2020 and her forthcoming book, The Path Forward: Serving Children Equitably is forthcoming.

About the Summer PLAY Blog Series: This summer we are featuring some great PLAY resources with our 2022 Summer PLAY Blog Series, starring two invited play partners as our content experts; Liz McChesney and Meghan Talarowski. Our experts will be sharing blog posts with you throughout the months of July and August.


2022 Summer Blog Series – Wash, Spin, and Play at the Laundromat

Summer Blog Series – Libraries & PLAY #2

“Wash, Spin, and Play at the Laundromat”

Wash, spin, and…play? You may not think it, but all types of meaningful play are ‘bubbling up’ in the everyday space of laundromats. All across the country, local laundromats are teaming up to offer early learning through play in their facilities. The Laundry Cares Foundation, in partnership with the Too Small To Fail Initiative of the Clinton Foundation, supports this initiative to bring play to everyday spaces. The goal of the Laundry Literacy project is to bring transformed spaces, high-quality play materials, and beautiful children’s books along with trusted messengers from the community. Offering this to children who have a long dwell time during laundromat visits, a mundane yet essential family chore, allows for playful learning opportunities. “A core strategy of Too Small to Fail has been to transform everyday places into playful, literacy-rich environments that would delight and captivate children and provide support for their parents as well,” said Jane Park. Families typically spend about two hours at their local laundromat each week and return on a weekly cycle. “We see that the laundromat provides a critical space for families to continue their learning,” says Brian Wallace, CEO of the Coin Laundry Association. “Through Laundry Cares Foundation, we are transforming our space and outcomes for community kids. Play is essential to that effort,” Wallace continues. Literacy experts agree: “We know that play is learning; bringing play together with other early literacy initiatives and into everyday spaces is an impactful way to meet the needs of our communities,” says Brian Bannon, The Merryl and James Tisch Director at the New York Public Library where he oversees educational initiatives. Partnerships with public libraries to provide story times, open play, and play-based learning opportunities is an essential element of this work. The New York Public Library
has been fundamental in bringing early literacy activities to area laundromats.

Over 200 laundromats across the country have transformed empty corners or unused areas of their stores by installing a highly curated ‘kit of parts’ called the Family Read, Play, and Learn spaces. These spaces contain a child’s table and chairs, a small couch for a parent and child to read or play together, and many fun ways to learn and play. “Providing high-quality materials that encourage open play and exploration in a transformed space is essential for a lasting impact,” says Marisa Conner, Early Childhood Consultant to Too Small To Fail. Blocks, puppets, building shapes, magnetic letters, and a play washing machine are all a part of these installations and serve to increase child engagement and instances of play in the space. In fact, pre-eminent early literacy researcher Dr. Susan Neuman of New York University has been researching this project for over five years and has found that transforming the space of the laundromat alone can change outcomes for kids: children were observed engaging in thirty times more literacy activities in laundromats that include the prototype kit compared to laundromats without the kits. “Children are eager and ready to learn,” states Dr. Neuman, “and the laundromat can be a place of immense learning through play, books, and language.”

Ongoing learning initiatives are also rolled out through the participating laundromats. This summer, in partnership with author Sandra Magsamen, the laundromats have been promoting play connected to Sandra’s new book, I Wish Wish Wish For You. This is a national summer learning initiative of Laundry Cares in partnership with Sandra Magsamen Studios and Source Books Publishing. “This book is about all the dreams we have for our children. This is a critical time for us all to wish for our children and to hear and understand our children’s wishes for the world,” said Sandra as she launched this book and the World of Wishes Campaign at the National Summer Learning Association last fall. Through bilingual posters placed in participating laundromats, children are guided to build a city using the Read, Play, and Learn Space building blocks. Other prompts encourage children to find a bubble in the washers and make up a story imagining it taking off into the world. Liz Terrell, Early Childhood Consultant for the Laundry Cares project who worked on this national summer initiative, says, “Guiding play around this beautiful book and the environment of the laundromat helps children draw meaning and make connections, which is how children learn and grow.” Additionally, child-directed play in the laundromat is encouraged year-round. This play allows the child to take control of their play, own the ideas, and have power in the process.

In July the Laundry Cares Foundation offered a five-site Free Laundry and Literacy Day throughout metropolitan Atlanta. Free laundry was provided to help families get ready for the start of school and ribbon cuttings occurred in these laundromats’ on five new early learning sites. The day was filled with playful learning as children created their wishes and played with bubbles. “I like to play,” said eight-year-old Tala-hisha, “but sometimes I don’t get to because I have to help my Mom.” The new laundromat space will allow her and her family and other kids just like her time and space to dedicate to play and reading while the wash is spinning.

Other play initiatives in the laundries have included a partnership with Sidewalk Math that allows children a contract-free way to learn mathematical patterns while hopping, skipping, and jumping on math-pattern games placed on the laundromat floor. This was accompanied by a deck of math concept cards which were created by Highlights Children’s Magazine. The cards promote games that draw on math concepts such as shapes, sorting, and counting. The Highlights math decks were distributed to over 5,000 families across the country at the height of COVID. “The laundromat is a great place to learn math,” said Dan Naumann, Executive Vice President of the Laundry Cares Foundation, “Sidewalk math and the early childhood math cards are great examples of how guided play can promote learning in our stores. Laundromat owners know that transformed space is not only good for business, but it’s also good for kids, and that matters to us.” Philadelphia laundromat owner of The Laundry Cafes, Brian Holland, echoes that sentiment by saying, “play is at the heart of equitable learning in our communities. Using our everyday spaces-Laundromats- to help our children and our communities flourish is what matters most.”

For more information on how to bring play to a laundromat near you, please reach out to Liz@Laundrycares.org.


About the Author: Liz McChesney served as the Chicago Public Library Director of Children’s Services and Family Engagement, where she earned numerous national awards, including the American Library Service to Children Distinguished Services Recipient. She now serves as the Community Partnerships Consultant to the Laundry Cares Foundation, where she helps build early learning in everyday spaces such as laundromats, WIC Centers, and family courts. She additionally serves as a Senior Advisor to the Urban Libraries Council and is a Senior Fellow at the National Summer Learning Association. In all these roles, play is at the center of her work. She has two books with the American Library Association, Summer Matters: Making All Learning Count (2017) and Pairing STEAM with Stories (2019). Her first picture book, Keke’s Super Strong Double Hugs, was published in 2020 and her forthcoming book, The Path Forward: Serving Children Equitably is forthcoming.

About the Summer PLAY Blog Series: This summer we are featuring some great PLAY resources with our 2022 Summer PLAY Blog Series, starring two invited play partners as our content experts; Liz McChesney and Meghan Talarowski. Our experts will be sharing blog posts with you throughout the months of July and August.


2022 Health & PLAY Institute at the Conference on the Value of Play

The 2022 Health & PLAY Institute is a special series featuring leading health professionals and researchers from across the country.

Recorded live at the 2022 IN PERSON Conference on the Value of Play: THE NATURE OF PLAY, the second annual Health & PLAY Institute (HAPI22) builds on the 2021 inaugural Online Health & PLAY Institute.

This year, the institute examines the synergies between play and health through the lens of the conference theme, THE NATURE OF PLAY. 

Topics include:

  • “The Nature of Play” – Stuart Brown, MD
  • “The Therapeutic Benefit of Nature PLAY an Acute and Chronic Pain” – Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, MBA
  • “Pushing Through a Fixed Notion of Play” – Brooke Buckley, MD, FACS
  • “National Study of Playgrounds” – Deborah A. Cohen, MD, MPH & Meghan Talarowski, PLA, ASLA, CPSI
  • “Environmental Determinants of Emotional Intelligence: Role of Nature Play and Greenspace Exposure” – Matthew Browning, PhD
  • …and “Movement Snacks” with Darryl Edwards

Speaker details and Registration information is below.


Meet Our Experts

Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, MBA, (Moderator) 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.

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.

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.

Deborah A. Cohen, MD, MPH, is a Research Scientist for Kaiser Permanente Research and Evaluation.  Dr. Cohen’s work focuses on improving the food environment, so that it promotes moderation and the consumption of healthy foods. She is also investigating how the design of playgrounds can encourage more people to be physically active and whether park prescriptions promote more physical activity.

Meghan Talarowski, PLA, ASLA, CPSI, is Founder and Executive Director of Studio Ludo in Philadelphia.  Meghan believes that play environments in the United States can, and should, be better.  She is a licensed landscape architect and a certified playground safety inspector whose research focuses on how the design of play environments impacts physical health and social behavior of children and caregivers.

Matthew Browning, PhD, is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Virtual Reality and Nature Lab, Clemson University.  His research career encompasses three domains (nature, health, virtual reality) and the intersections between them. Dr. Browning’s research aims to improve human health and well-being through environmental interventions, both physical and simulated.  His collaborative research expands awareness of the protective impact of urban greening on health.  Dr. Browning has published nearly 50 peer-reviewed articles and ranks among the top 15 most productive/cited scholars on nature and health based on PubMed metrics.

Darryl Edwards is the founder of the Primal Play Method® and a physical activity, health and play researcher. The Primal Play Method® fuses the science of evolutionary biology with exercise physiology and play psychology.  Darryl is author of the best-selling book “Animal Moves.”


Registration Information for the 2022 Health and PLAY Institute


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  2022 IN PERSON Conference on the Value of Play: THE NATURE OF PLAY   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.


US Play Coalition Announces 2021 Online LACES Play Series

For our landscape architect friends, we are excited to announce our 2021 Online LACES Play Series!  Earn up to 9 LACES credits online and ON DEMAND through December 31, 2021. The LACES series is part of the 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL.

Thank you to our partner – the South Carolina Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects. These fine folks work hard to ensure we can provide LACES CEUs for the relevant conference sessions. Glad to have you on our Play Team, ASLA-SC!

Check out the list of LACES approved sessions:

  • “All Ages, All Abilities, All the Time” – Jill Moore White
    Parks today face the challenge of providing environments where all visitors can feel safe, secure and fully engaged. Universal design increases usability, safety, health and social participation. In this presentation, participants will discover how applying the principles of universal design ultimately contribute to social equity and social sustainability in parks.
  • “Designing Everyday Spaces for Children” – Shweta Nanekar, PLA, LEED AP (BD+C)
    How do we modify current approaches to the design of everyday spaces to make them more child-friendly? Available literature on child-friendly environments is reviewed to identify empirical research and project examples that can help designers and planners to create spaces that cater to the “Whole Child.”
  • “Future of Play: Technology Integration” – David Flanigan, CPSI
    We all know that kids are spending countless hours in front of a screen, not only for gaming and social media, but due to COVID, many kids are attending school virtually. What will the future be like for kids if they are addicted to their screens and don’t want to go outside and play?
  • “Healthy Communities, Parks and Splashpads” – Sarah Shepherd
    As demographics, inclusiveness and health concerns evolve, aging facilities need to step up their game to keep communities engaged and active.  Explore effective community infrastructure through the lens of aquatic play. Discover how Splashpads increase park usage, promote inclusion and build social capital that help communities grow and flourish.
  • “The Importance of Failure in Play” – Melinda Pearson
    Failure is an inevitable part of life. By creating play spaces that push boundaries in thinking and stretch the limitations of our bodies we create a safe play to explore our failures and learn great things about our growing selves and our budding potential in the process.
  • “Inclusive Playground Design:  A Case Study of Three New England Playgrounds” – Ingrid Kanics
    This presentation will share the research results of interviews with parents of children of all abilities around the design of three New England Inclusive Playgrounds. We will share what design features they feel make a playground inclusive and how these playgrounds impact the life of their communities, families and children.
  • “Making Connections: People, Places, and Physical Activity” – Ines Palacios, PhD
    Discover planning and design considerations to increase community connectivity, offer more enjoyable ways to be physically active outdoors, and create multigenerational destinations that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. Effectively champion and advocate for solutions to provide more affordable, accessible ways to activate healthy lifestyles and increase economic vitality.
  • “National Study of Playgrounds (2020)” – Meghan Talarowski, MLA, CPSI
    The National Study of Playgrounds (NSP), a joint research project of Studio Ludo and Dr. Deborah Cohen, is the first observational study of playgrounds to compare the impacts of playground design on play behavior and physical activity across gender, age group, and socio-economic status.
  • “Prototyping: Play Applied” – Aaron Goldblatt, Dana Schloss, Meghan Talarowski, Christopher Kircher
    Designers of all stripes occasionally use prototyping to test ideas and physical realities. This discussion advocates for moving the act from occasional to central to a practice and to understand it as an act of play. Designing through joyful exploration makes better spaces for everyone.

Earn up to 9 credits for just $75!  Register for the 2021 Online LACES Series for ON DEMAND access through December 31, 2021.

If you are already registered for the 2021 Virtual Play Conference, please reach out to us at usplaycoalition@clemson.edu for access to the session assessments.


The U.S. Play Coalition
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

The Conference on the VALUE of Play
The Play Conference, as it is commonly known, is an annual professional development 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 80+ headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations, networking and much more – all online from April 1 through December 31, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


VIDEO: “Expanding the Conversation on Race and Play”

In 2018, Harrison Pinckney, PhD, moderated a groundbreaking keynote panel of experts in a discussion on what play looks like for Black youth.  This year, Dr. Pinckney returns with new colleagues to broaden the discussion as we continue to work towards a better understanding of the racial implications of race on play.

“Expanding the Conversation on Race and Play”

Black people have long been depicted as less than human. Studies have shown that this perception has led to Black people being mistreated by police officers, teachers and even doctors. Unfortunately, Black children and youth are not exempt from this mistreatment. There are a number of historic and contemporary examples of play being interrupted for Black youth for this very reason.

This is an engaging discussion on how the portrayal of Black youth contributes to the way they are engaged in play spaces. Video games, free play, and movies are among some of the contexts explored.

This session was recorded live on May 24, 2021.  The recording is included below!  This is one of the 80+ headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations from the 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL .


Meet our Experts:

Harrison Pinckney, IV, PhD
Assistant Professor of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management, Clemson University
Dr. Pinckney’s research focuses on the systems, institutions, and programs that influence the racial socialization of African American youth. Similarly, he examines the ways in which racial identity manifests itself in the lives of African American youth. Recognizing the role of faith-based organizations in the African American community, I also explore the ways in which this institution serves youth and the outcomes associated with participation in/with these organizations.

TreaAndrea Russworm, PhD
Associate Professor of English, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
TreaAndrea M. Russworm is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Series Editor of Power Play: Games, Politics, Culture (Duke University Press). She is also currently an Associate Editor for Outreach and Equity for the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. With research expertise in digital media, popular culture, and African American studies, Professor Russworm is also the founder of Radical Play, a public humanities initiative and afterschool program in Springfield, MA, and she is the author or editor of three books: Blackness is Burning: Civil Rights, Popular Culture, and the Problem of Recognition; Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games; and From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry. She is currently writing a fourth book on race, video games, and the politics of play.

Nathaniel Bryan, EdD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education, Miami University
Nathaniel Bryan, Ed.D., Ph.D. is an assistant professor of early childhood education at the Miami University. His teaching and scholarship explores issues of equity and diversity, critical race theory, culturally relevant teaching, urban education, and Black education. Though he studies broadly these frameworks, he is particularly interested in the constructed identities and pedagogical styles of Black male teachers and the schooling and childhood play experiences of Black boys in early childhood classrooms through a critical lens. In his spare time, Dr. Bryan enjoys reading novels, traveling abroad, and spending time with family.


Below is the full recording of the featured session
“Expanding the Conversation on Race and Play”


This is one of the 80+ headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations from the 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL – all recorded live earlier this year.


The Conference on the VALUE of Play
The Play Conference, as it is commonly known, is an annual professional development 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 80+ headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations, networking and much more – all online from April 1 through December 31, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


VIDEO Showcases Playful Activities to Support Whole Child Health

This session provides simple and inexpensive strategies to support children’s physical and social-emotional health. It emphasizes inclusive activities and partnerships to help caregivers engage children in PLAYful, language-rich learning opportunities.

“Playful Activities to
Support Whole Child Health”

This featured session explores playful learning resources to help caregivers support the physical and social-emotional health of children. Co-facilitated by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Too Small to Fail, the session begins with a fun, virtual and active icebreaker. After quick introductions to the organizations and the “Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model,” Jane and Daniel share a series of playful activities that encourage movement and learning. Pausing for a group reflection and “check-in” with attendees, we’ll spend time discussing cross-sector collaborations to help all children thrive. The presentation will conclude with simple action planning and sharing of a resource list. Q/A will occur throughout the session.


Meet our Experts:

Jane Park is the Director of Too Small to Fail, the early childhood initiative of the Clinton Foundation, where she leads national partnerships with corporations, nonprofit organizations, and associations to support children and families across the country. Prior to her role with Too Small to Fail, Jane served as the Associate Director of Content in the Education, Research, and Outreach department at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street. In that role, she helped develop the whole child curriculum on which the television series is based and worked across the organization, as well as with external partners, to integrate Sesame Street’s educational content across media platforms—including print, video, online, social media, and toy products. Jane also led Sesame Street’s “Healthy Habits for Life” initiative, as well as the development of community outreach resources to support families through challenging situations such military deployment, natural disasters, and economic and food insecurity. Jane holds an M.A. in developmental psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in communications from the University of California at San Diego.

Daniel Hatcher, MPH, Director of Community Partnerships, oversees Healthier Generation’s cross-sector partnerships with key youth-serving programs and community-based organizations. A nationally renowned collaborator and trainer, Daniel manages technical assistance services and resources for out-of-school and summer programs as they work to achieve optimal healthy eating, physical activity and social emotional health for the children and caregivers they serve. Daniel has a BA in International Relations and a Master of Public Health, both from Western Kentucky University. You can follow Daniel as he speaks across the country on the topic of healthy communities via Twitter @hatchdw.


Below is the full recording of the featured session
“Playful Activities to Support Whole Child Health”


This is one of the 80+ headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations from the 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL – all recorded live earlier this year.


The Conference on the VALUE of Play
The Play Conference, as it is commonly known, is an annual professional development 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 80+ headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations, networking and much more – all online from April 1 through December 31, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


VIDEO: “Play, Design and Mental Health” with Play Futurist Yesim Kunter

In a world of commercial toys, how can we design resources that support the mental wellness and health of children?

“Play, Design and Mental Health”
with play futurist Yesim Kunter

There is a growing need of resources that are playfully dedicated to the wellbeing of children. There is no question that there is a huge decline in children’s mental health. The risks are huge but resources are limited.

By playing we can learn to adapt and gain insights on how we can navigate in certain situations. Therefore it is crucial to be able to create the resources that children can experiment and learn through.

In order to design products that aim to deliver these insights one must understand children’s inner worlds and the attempt to translate them into a design language.  Collaborating with a diverse group of experts in a variety of fields is key. 

In this featured session, Yesim Kunter explores important design principles and shares relevant case studies.

This session was recorded live on April 13, 2021.  The recording is included below!  This is one of the 80+ headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations from the 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL .


Meet our Expert:

Yesim Kunter is a recognized play expert and a creative strategist, understanding behavior of people to create new experiences and define new opportunities.

Yesim is an independent consultant; developing play experiences for various customers for product development, applying Play Philosophy to spaces, environments, communities, culture creation as well as market research with future scoping. She has been training organizations with diverse backgrounds from kids to professionals for leveraging Creativity and Innovation through Play Workshops.

Yesim worked more than a decade for industry leaders in various countries like Toys R Us, Lego and Hasbro. Her training as a toy designer and her passion to unravel the future to identify and define new experiences transformed her carrier to become a play-futurist.

Yesim was brought up in Turkey and lived in New York, Denmark, Billund and now in London, which gave her a multi-cultural perspective that helps her to become a keen observer in human behavior.


Below is the full recording of the featured session
“Play, Design and Mental Health”


This is one of the 80+ headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations from the 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL – all recorded live earlier this year.


The Conference on the VALUE of Play
The Play Conference, as it is commonly known, is an annual professional development 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 80+ headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations, networking and much more – all online from April 1 through December 31, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


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.”