July 24 #WePlayChat: “The Social and Emotional Benefits of Play”

Join us on Tuesday, July 24th at 7:00pm EST as we welcome co-moderator Tracy Lockwood, Owner of PLAY Education, to our #WePlayChat to discuss the topic, “The Social and Emotional Benefits of Play”.

Tracy Lockwood is a certified K-12 PE Teacher and has over 25 years of experience as an educator. Her teaching experience includes working with K-12 students in Alberta & Abu Dhabi. Tracy was employed as an Education Consultant for nearly 10 years where she facilitated hundreds of workshops for thousands of professionals at the local, provincial, national and international level. Her consulting role brought many opportunities to write, edit and review resources and curriculum for numerous organizations and government ministries. Tracy is a Master Trainer for the National Coaching Certification Program & DANCEPL3Y (dance-play). She has her Masters in Educational Leadership and has a passion for all things physical education, physical literacy and physical activity. Through her many years of teaching, coaching, and facilitating, she has discovered her greatest passion!  Today, Tracy runs a successful business, PLAY Education, and works with thousands of children, youth and adults every year around the world to empower and inspire them to move, laugh, connect, and smile, while learning new ways to be physically active and develop physical literacy.  Visit her website – www.playeducation.ca  Check out her new adventures on Twitter this Fall in Asia, where she and her husband will be living and working. Please join us in welcoming Tracy to our monthly #WePlayChat on Twitter. You can connect with her prior to the chat @PLAY_Educator.

Here are the questions Tracy will be covering during #WePlayChat dialogue:

1. What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and why is it important to be more intentional about teaching SEL skills?

2. When should we teach SEL skills? 

3. How can we teach SEL skills across multiple settings? 

4. What resources are available to support SEL through Play?


#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 8 countries, spanning 4 continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from across the globe.

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 and contribute to the conversation around the value of play.


I Used To Think Play Was _________. But Now I Think Play Is _______

After teaching the “Benefits of Play in Child Development” course for the last 10 years, I have read this opening line in students’ reflection paper many times. This year my thoughts about play have also changed. I used to think that play was something I could teach my students but now I think that play is something we need to experience to be understood. The focus of my teaching has always been to help college students understand the benefits of unstructured play by helping me organize a Play Day; a community event where families play with used and recyclable materials. The students create the games or activities for the Play Day but this summer I changed the theme to an Adventure Playground. For those of you reading this, and have just crawled out from under a pre-fab playground set, an Adventure Playground provides children with loose parts and encourages them to engage in freely-chosen, child-directed play.

But…before I could host my first Adventure Playground Play Day, I had to rethink my own thoughts about what an unstructured Play Day would look like. Then I had to convince my students that an adventure playground was the way to go, and finally I had to pull it all together, and get the community to show up.

Thinking Playful Thoughts

Although it was not difficult to image what an adventure playground could look like, kids playing with ‘junk’, it took me some time to accept the idea that an unstructured Play Day could work. At the time I was reading a book about playful intelligence; in fact I had the pleasure of meeting the author at the US Play Coalition Conference in Clemson SC last April. I serendipitously pre-ordered the book by Anthony DeBenedet titled Playful Intelligence: The Power of Living Lightly in a Serious World, and discovered after getting home from the conference, and finding the book on my doorstep, that I had met the author at the conference.  Anthony’s book helped me to look at play from a different perspective, the adult point of view. As a university professor, I teach students about children development from a play perspective. My students will one day work with children as a teacher, counselor, occupational therapist, or child life specialist. I am also the parent of two kiddos who love to pretend that they are puppies. I am so steeped in teaching and advocating for children’s play that I forgot to consider adult play! Some of the key points in Anthony’s book helped me to realize that I needed to change things with my play class. That I can use my sense of wonder to rediscover and embrace my imagination; to think about a Play Day that could be different. I knew that play is for all people; I just had to remember that I also needed play.

I think she might be crazy?!

While the students were curious to learn more about adventure playgrounds, they were not sold on the idea, yet. One student thought I was a bit crazy to bring junk to a nature center and let kids play with boxes, pallets, and tubes. After reading parts of Penny Wilson’s Playwork Primer and talking with Morgan Leichter-Saxby co-founder of Pop-up Adventure Playground, the students were beginning to think of themselves as play workers instead of event planners. The role of the play worker is to provide the loose parts and allow children opportunities for risk and child-directed. However, moving to the play worker mindset takes some practice. The students who worked at daycare centers and summer youth programs, had a “safety first” mentality. Students realized they did not have to rush to help children at the Play Day; that in fact they should think of themselves as a resource and not as a remedy. Students appreciated our conversation with Morgan, and were fascinated at the scenes from the documentary “The Land.” They were completely surprised at the level of trust the play workers had with the children as we watched the kiddos use knives, build fires, and scale trees. One student reflected, “Now I know that by telling a child to be careful in the middle of their play, it restricts their play, and I’m not going to do that.”

If you build an adventure playground, they will come?

When I first started hosting Play Days I would make a flyer, post them around town at different businesses and childcare facilities, and hope for the best. Within the last 5 years, I have noticed that the more social networking sites that I posted my event to, it has increased the attendance at the Play Day. I always contact local media outlets to promote the event, however, even after I tell my students about my efforts, and encourage them to post to their social media pages, they are still unsure if anyone would show up. However, it always works! About 60 people came to the Adventure Playground Play Day. Not only was the kiddy-pool filled with mud a favorite, the children were eager to paint their toes, legs, and faces. The parents appreciated the chance for their children to get messy without having to worry about cleaning up the space, that was our responsibility.

The students were concerned about the mess afterwards, however they noted that it was a mess worth cleaning up. They suggested that for “next time” I should warn students about the mess. Although I do plan to give the future student a heads-up, I also want them to experience the Play Day in their own way. If someone had told me, 15 years ago, after I helped my colleagues Joyce Hemphill and Laura Scheinholtz arrange a Play Day, that play would be the focus of my research, advocacy, and teaching philosophy I would never have believed it. You cannot warn people about some things in life, you just have to let them experience it for themselves.

 

About the Author

Heather Von Bank, PhD, is Chair and Associate Professor of Family Consumer Science at Minnesota State University-Mankato.  She teaches and advises in the Child Development and Family Studies area. Her specialty areas include research on parent–child relations during the stage of adolescence and family life issues. Dr. Von Bank is co-author of the book “The Power of Playful Learning.”


#PlayTakeOver By Brian VanDongen: Summer Camp Gives Kids The Time They Need To Play

Play is crucial in a child’s physical, social, and emotional development.  But most of the year, kids don’t get enough time to play. Summer camp needs to be a time where children can play.

Threats to Play

There are two major threats to play. The first threat is the amount of time children spend being physically active is decreasing. Compared to previous generations, children now spend more time sitting than moving. Schools are adding classroom time at the expense of recess and physical education. There also have been large increases in screen time use in children. A National Institute of Health study 2016 reported that the average child spends approximately five to seven hours per day using a screen. This is nearly – or more than – double the amount of time children used screens according to a 2007 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation study. An increase in sedentary time is a threat to play because most play requires movement and action.

A second threat to play is the lack opportunities for children to improvise or use their own resources for play. Parental concern for safety has led to an increase in the use of toys and games that have a directive nature because of the parental fear of letting children playing unsupervised. Many toys and games now come with a set of instructions or rules. This hinders creativity and the opportunity for free play. For example, if a child has a doll or action figure from a TV show, that toy has a pre-defined personality, story, and character. However, a generic doll or action figure has none, so the child is able to create his or her own story and character for the doll or action figure.

The Role of Play At Summer Camp

Because of the threats to play in a child’s life, play takes on a role of increased importance at summer camp. Camp allows children the time to play: while many activities at camp are organized and directed by the counselors, ample time for free play should be included in a daily summer camp schedule. Campers can create imaginative scenarios and explore together while the counselors either watch over them or actively engage in the child-driven play. Campers may ask their counselors to play a role in their scenario. Good camp counselors will take on that role and be fun!

Many parents are concerned – and rightfully so – about their child’s education and the lack of formal schooling during the summer months. However, free play is crucial to a child’s development. Higher levels of school adjustment, increased social development, and increased literacy skills are all benefits of free play. If children aren’t getting the amount of play they need during the school year,

While children’s opportunities for play and physical activity being reduced in their “normal” world, there needs to be ample time for play at summer camp so children can experience the benefits of free play.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “it is a happy talent to know how to play.” This talent is crucial for child development, and every child should have the opportunity to acquire the talent to play. There are countless benefits of play; however, many can fall into four main categories: physical, emotional, social, and cognitive.

In today’s increasingly sedentary world, play and physical activity help children become physically fit. Children learn movement control, acquire body-spatial awareness, develop fine and gross motor skills and increase flexibility and balancing skills when they play. In addition, when children are involved in physical activity, they build stronger muscles and improve bone density, improve heart and lung function and prevent obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol. Children who are physically active at a young age and enjoy that physical activity are more likely to become physically active adults.

The physical benefits of play are easily noticeable. However, there are internal benefits of play that are not so easily identified but that are crucial to a child’s development, such as emotional development. Play often times allows children to experiment with physical challenges – such as climbing and hanging; these opportunities encourages them to evaluate and take risks. By taking that risk and overcoming that challenge, children develop a sense of accomplishment, leading to higher self-confidence and self-esteem levels.

A key reason children look forward to play is the opportunity to spend time with their friends and the change to make new friends. These social interactions are important. In group play, children learn social roles and cultural rules and develop appropriate cooperation skills. Group play teaches children about real-life relationships; when children develop and test relationships, they learn self-control and negotiation skills. These skills help children prepare for a lifetime of interacting with others.

Experts agree that play is critical for a child’s brain development. In play, children develop language and reasoning skills. Play encourages independent thinking and problem solving abilities and often can improve a child’s focus. Children develop verbal skills, judgment and reasoning and creativity.

We are the adults we become because of our play experiences as children and the skills we learn when we play.

Good summer camps offer children to opportunity to play. Because at camp, and with play, children grow, explore, learn, and have fun – all without even realizing it.

 

About the Author

Brian VanDongen is a parks and recreation professional in Hillsborough Township (N.J.).  He has extensive experience working in parks and recreation and an educational background in Excercise Science and Physical Education as well as in Sport and Exercise Psychology.  Brian is a play ambassador for the US Play Coalition.  Check out his blog “The First Quarter.”

 

*Photo of children playing on bars courtesy of Brian VanDongen


2018 Grant Winners Announced

Grant funding is a distinctive feature of our annual Play Conference, and we are proud to have awarded $52,000 in funding to date.   At the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play the new grant winners were announced.  The review process was challenging as we had a record number of outstanding submissions this year.

Each year a $3,000 research seed grant is awarded to a researcher or group of researchers who present empirical research at the play conference to support new, innovative and thoughtful work on the value of play.  This is seed funding in support of longitudinal or future research in diverse topics related to play, and grant recipients’ work reflects great potential for expanding knowledge in the field.

The 2018 Research Seed Grant was awarded to Muntazar Monsur, Ph.D., Nilda Cosco, Ph.D., and Robin Moore from NC State for their project entitled “Transitional play: Exploring the Play Value of Classroom Indoor-Outdoor Relationship of Space.”  The team plans to research transitional play and investigate the play value of transitional semi-covered space in an early childhood classroom to find out if it increases outdoor play time for children and increase children’s diversity in play.

In addition to the research grant, $1000 action grants are awarded to support creative and innovative proposals to engage groups in play or to educate about the value of play. This year we had two action grants, supported by funding from our Giving TuesPLAY initiative as well as from action grant partner the Foundation for Sustainable Parks and Recreation.

There were two projects that each received a 2018 Action Grant:

– “Loose Parts Play Builds Tight Communities” – Patty Stine and Cheryl Simpson, Co-Founders of Pure Play Every Day, Inc.

– “Unequal Playing Field – A Panel Discussion on the Importance of Accessing Equal Play for Girls and Girls of Color” – Starr Jordan & Nichole Myles from Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry


CEUs for Architects and Landscape Architects Available to Registered Attendees at The Play Conference

Want a PLAYful way to earn AIA and LA CES CEUs?!  Come to the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play, April 8-11 at Clemson University.

More than 18 hours of our sessions have been approved for LA CES credits.  Over 9 hours of our sessions have been approved for AIA learning units – two sessions also approved for HSW credits (NCBLA credits are pending too!).

Check out these LA CES approved sessions below.  AIA designation indicated where applicable.  All are one hour unless noted:

  • Effective Playground Protective Surfacing: The Key Element for Risk Assessment under the new ASTM F1487 (*3.5 hours, separate registration required – AIA HSW and LU)
  • Inclusive Design for the Aquatic Splash Pad (AIA HSW and LU)
  • Community-Based Strategies for Building and Activating Inclusive Playgrounds (AIA LU)
  • Learning to Build (AIA LU)
  • Lighting Play Environments for Today & the Future (AIA LU)
  • Shhh! There’s a Playspace coming to the Library! (AIA LU)
  • Your Senses at Play! Explore playground designs and programs that support children with Autism (AIA LU)
  • A Walk on the Wild Side: Connecting Play and Zoo Walkways
  • Availability and Quality of Urban Play Spaces in The East Africa Community: A Critical Assessment
  • Just Play Project: Ithaca: Designing the Child-Friendly City!
  • US-PLay-Round-Tables
  • Sensory Play: An Integral Component of Inclusive Recreation
  • Shaped by Play: The Formative Role of Play and Playgrounds
  • The Butterfly Effect: Building on the Big Idea
  • The Many Spaces of Play: The Many Faces of Children
  • Water Play and Children’s Complex Scientific Explorations
  • Zoos as a Nature Play Destination: Nature Playgrounds at Bronx Zoo and Houston Zoo

Special registration options are available for schools, non-profits, and government agencies looking to send 4 or more delegates.  Contact Stephanie Garst for more information.

 

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.

  

 


LA CES Credits Available to Registered Attendees at The Play Conference

Want a PLAYful way to earn LA CES CEUs?!  Come to the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play, April 8-11 at Clemson University.

More than 18 hours of our sessions have been approved for LA CES credits – and more are pending!
(NCBLA and AIA credits are pending too!)

Check out these LA CES approved sessions (all are one hour unless noted):

  • Effective Playground Protective Surfacing: The Key Element for Risk Assessment under the new ASTM F1487 (*3.5 LA CES hours, separate registration required)
  • A Walk on the Wild Side: Connecting Play and Zoo Walkways
  • Availability and Quality of Urban Play Spaces in The East Africa Community: A Critical Assessment
  • Community-Based Strategies for Building and Activating Inclusive Playgrounds
  • Inclusive Design for the Aquatic Splash Pad
  • Just Play Project: Ithaca: Designing the Child-Friendly City!
  • Learning to Build
  • Lighting Play Environments for Today & the Future (also approved for AIA CEUs)US-PLay-Round-Tables
  • Sensory Play: An Integral Component of Inclusive Recreation
  • Shaped by Play: The Formative Role of Play and Playgrounds
  • Shhh! There’s a Playspace coming to the Library!
  • The Butterfly Effect: Building on the Big Idea
  • The Many Spaces of Play: The Many Faces of Children
  • Water Play and Children’s Complex Scientific Explorations
  • Your Senses at Play! Explore playground designs and programs that support children with Autism.
  • Zoos as a Nature Play Destination: Nature Playgrounds at Bronx Zoo and Houston Zoo

Special registration options are available for schools, non-profits, and government agencies looking to send 4 or more delegates.  Contact Stephanie Garst for more information.

 

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.

  

 


NPR Correspondent and Author to give PLAYtalk on Screen Time and Play

Anya Kamenetz will be a PLAYtalk presenter at the  2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play, April 8-11, at Clemson University.

Anya Kamenetz is the lead digital education correspondent for National Public Radio. She is the author of several books about learning and the future. Her latest book is The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life (PublicAffairs, 2018).

Kamenetz’s 2018 PLAYtalk presentation is titled “From FaceTime to PlayTime: How Screens Can Fit into a Playful World.”

Kamenetz covered technology, innovation, sustainability, and social entrepreneurship for five years as a staff writer for Fast Company magazine. She’s contributed to The New York TimesThe Washington PostNew York Magazine, Slate, and appeared in documentaries shown on PBS and CNN.

Kamenetz was named a 2010 Game Changer in Education by the Huffington Post, received 2009, 2010, and 2015 National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for innovation in 2017 along with the rest of the NPR Ed team.

 

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.

 

The ABCs of the 2018 Play Conference Research Symposium and Educational Sessions

The full detailed schedule is coming soon with dozens more session titles…but until then, below is an alphabetical list of the Research Symposium and Educational Sessions that have been confirmed for the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play.  Check back often because we will update the list as our presenters continue to confirm their sessions.

 playing with boxes from Pat Rumbaugh     DSCF1349    IMG_2667

Be sure to REGISTER TODAY because the early bird deadline for this PLAYful conference is February 28.

  • A Critical Approach to Play and Recreation Evaluation: Telling More of the Story
  • Adaptive Sports Development: Building a 7-a-side Paralympic Soccer Club Program
  • An Analysis of School Playgrounds and Parks using Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • An Exploration of Infant and Toddler Outdoor Play
  • A Walk on the Wild Side: Connecting Play and Zoo Walkways
  • Activating an Urban Neighborhood for Outdoor Play:  Strategies for Replication
  • Applying Play Research and Theory to School, Community, and Family Settings in Trinidad & Tobago
  • Assessing Availability and Quality of Play Spaces for Cities within the East Africa Community
  • Beyond Cardboard and Sticks: The Role of Toys in Facilitating Play
  • Biophilic Approach to Children’s Nature-based Outdoor Designed Environments
  • Building a #All-In Classroom Culture: Real-World Challenges In a Game-Based Atmosphere
  • Celebrating a University Collaborative Community of Play
  • Children’s PlayDays – Play Provision in a Time of Extreme Crisis
  • Combining Modern Technology with Outdoor Play
  • Community-Based Strategies for Building and Activating Inclusive Playgrounds
  • Community Health Lessons From Volunteer Implementation of Natural Play Spaces
  • Creating a Playful Event for Children with Special Needs
  • Creating Specialized Outdoor Play Training To Empower Children’s Experiences
  • Diabetes Day Camp: Playing To Learn, Heal and Connect
  • Discover, Play, Share: Using Play To Build Early Literacy And STEM Skills In Preschoolers
  • Discover the Secret Language of Play
  • Exploring a Multi-Sector Approach To Play
  • Four Elements of Play As Described By Ugandan Women
  • Get Playful With Dance
  • How Better Play Makes Better Schools
  • How I Learned To Be an Adult; Lessons Learned On the Recess Playground
  • How to Open a Toy Library
  • How to Survive and Thrive As a Purely Play-Based Program: The Sunflower Creative Arts Story
  • Idea Factory: STEM through Play
  • Inclusive Design for the Aquatic Splash Pad
  • Improv Parenting: Using Improv to Parent Playfully and Mindfully
  • Is It Play?  Is It Learning? A Cross-Cultural Study of Children’s And Parents’ Views
  • “It’s Gonna Hurt”: Roughhousing and Risk in Play
  • Learning to Build
  • Leisure Activities among Urban Older Adults in China: How and Where do They Play?
  • Let’s Get Some GoNoodle On!
  • Making Classroom Magic with Mystery Skype
  • More Fences, More Freedom? Exploring How the Design of Public Play Areas Affects Supervision
  • Municipal Government and Play, It Can Be Done!
  • Natural Harmony: An Instrumental Guide to Blending Music & Community
  • Naturestart: Professional Development For Informal and Early Childhood Educators in Blended Classrooms
  • Night at the Brewseum: Adults at Play!
  • Opportunities and Barriers of Play at Pediatric Gardens: A Recent Case Study
  • Play and Prevention of Bullying Behaviors
  • Play Based Education through a Comprehensive School Health Framework
  • Playground Literacy: Supporting Active Learning through Play
  • PlayMatters – Therapeutic Value of Play for Children Impacted by Agent Orange from the Vietnam War
  • Play Politics: School and Municipal Decision-Making Challenges in Canada Limiting Access to Play
  • Play, Time, Behavior, and Flourishing
  • Prevention, Promotion and Play: Using Interactive Activities to Promote Child Health and Wellness
  • Recess Results: A Survey on Educators’ Perspectives on the Benefits of Recess
  • Remember Play? How Our Personal Play Histories Springboard Support for Child-Directed Play
  • Results of Grassroots Efforts to Increase Nature Play Infrastructure for Children
  • Scaling Up: Building Play Networks At the Regional Level
  • Sensory Play: An Integral Component of Inclusive Recreation
  • The Butterfly Effect: Building On the Big Idea
  • The Healing Power of Play – Restoring Childhood to Kids Impacted By Disasters
  • The Real Toy Story: How to Create a Toy Library by The #1 Library in the Country
  • The Role of Play in the Art Museum: A Case Study at the High Museum of Art
  • The Urgent Need for Play-Based Experiential Learning in Preschool and Kindergarten
  • Three Key Questions to Scaffold Playfulness
  • Tips, Tools, and Tales from the Field: Fostering All-Out, Joyful Play in Adults
  • Transitional Play: Exploring the Play Value of Classroom Indoor-Outdoor Relationship of Space
  • Water Play and Children’s Complex Scientific Explorations
  • What’s Going on with the Midwest Play Conference?: A Nature and Loose Parts Play Workshop
  • YMCA Of Western Ontario; Outdoor Play Project
  • Your Senses at Play! Explore Playground Designs And Programs That Support Children With Autism
  • Zoos as a Nature Play Destination: Nature Playgrounds at Bronx Zoo and Houston Zoo

…and MANY, MANY MORE!!  You don’t want to miss this exciting professional development opportunity!  Join us at the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play, April 8-11 at Clemson University.


January 29 #WePlayChat: Play To Heal Community Trauma

Join us Monday, January 29 at 9:00am EST as we welcome co-moderator Nathan LeJune from New Orleans to our #WePlayChat to discuss, “Play To Heal Community Trauma.”

After serving in various youth-development roles for over 10 years, Nathan ‘Nate’ LeJeune moved to New Orleans from South West Louisiana to be a part of the ever-changing community landscape. He has served as a Program Director for a local community-based youth development program (Excite All-Stars) and Program Manager for the Up2Us Sports AmeriCorps program. Nathan has now transitioned to training coaches and programs across the country in sports-based youth development strategies and practices. When Nathan isn’t studying the latest trauma-sensitive research, he enjoys spending time with his family, attending sporting events, and playing as many sports as his wife and body will allow. Join us in welcoming Nathan to our monthly #WePlayChat learning opportunities.

Here are the questions Nathan will be covering during #WePlayChat dialogue:

1. How can coaches and facilitators of play aid in healing a community affected by trauma?

2. We know that opportunities for free play develop strong social-emotional skills for kids. How can we incorporate safe opportunities for free play in sports settings?
 
3. When we play we create connections and build competency, the ability to learn new skills. How can these outcomes benefit our individual and communal sense of safety and contribute to healing?
 
4. What are other aspects of play and sport that can be therapeutic for kids, and help them feel safe and supported when playing?

#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 8 countries, spanning 4 continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from across the globe.

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 and contribute to the conversation around the value of play.


Now Accepting Nominations for 2018 Outstanding Researcher and Youth Practitioner Awards

The U.S. Play Coalition is now accepting nominations for its 2018 awards program, recognizing outstanding play research and youth practitioners.  First awarded at the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play, this new awards program honors exceptional individuals each year.  The winners not only receive a physical award, but also have conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play.  Deadline for nominations is 11:59pm EST on December 15.

Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

The Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research honors its namesake, the contemporary father of play advocacy.  The award recognizes someone for a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play.

“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. “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.

 

YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award

The U.S. Play Coalition teamed with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute for the Youth Development Practitioner Award. The award recognizes outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services. (The nominee does NOT have to be affiliated with Clemson University.)

“There are many deserving practitioners across the nation, and our goal with this award is to bring recognition to this field of service,” said Stephen Lance, executive director of the Youth Learning Institute.