US Play Coalition Awards and Grants Help Expand the Play Movement

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.

Play is important for people of all ages to be physically active, mentally alert, creative, and socially connected. Over the past decade, the US Play Coalition has been proud to have given almost $60,000 in action and research grants to a variety of projects. These investments have helped foster the continued growth of both a body of knowledge and community-focused play experiences that benefit thousands of people of all ages and abilities.

Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research
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.

Youth Learning Institute’s Youth Development Practitioner Award
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 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.

2019 Action Grant Winners

Three $1,000 action grants are providing needed funding for projects that are facilitating play in specific communities and across the country.

Courtney Gardner and Ben Dalbey with Free for All Baltimore received an Action Grant to help organize a Free for All Community Day. The event will make families aware of the opportunities for play, demonstrate the value of play activities to community leaders, and help engage the community in creating places for children and youth to play in Baltimore.

Ahren Hoffman, Jean Bailey and Kimberly Mosely with the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association are creating a Spanish version of the Brilliant Benefits of Toys Guide, which explores how toys are perhaps the fastest and most fun way for a child to reach important milestones through physical, cognitive, communicative, social/emotional and sensory play experiences. The guide, which is already available in English, will be shared both digitally and in print.

Shannon Keleher, Ph.D., Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Frisco, for the PlayFrisco! project, which will provide training for area teachers and parks and recreation employees, so they are better equipped to spread the message of the importance of play.

2019 Research Seed Grant Award Winner
Janet Loebach, Ph.D., received this year’s $3,000 Research Seed Grant Award for her project, “Development of a research-based audit tool for assessing the quality and efficacy of outdoor play environments.”

Loebach is developing a research-informed outdoor playspace audit tool to assess several different outdoor and natural play spaces, including in public parks and recreation facilities, schools or childcare facilities, and educational facilities such as museums or nature learning centers.

The assessment tool and a user guide could be used by designers, facility managers and administrators, school and child care facility staff, parks planners and managers, and even community groups, to assess or guide the development of natural, outdoor playspaces. It could also be used by researchers to evaluate play opportunities, or complement other tools, such as behavior mapping or staff walkalong interviews.

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.


R&D Project Utilizing Play to Link Design with Classroom Pedagogy Supported by Giving TuesPLAY Funds

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

The 2018 Research Grant Winner is a project from the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University titled “Transitional Play: Investigating the play value of a transitional semi-covered space in an early childhood classroom.”  The goal of this research and development (R&D) effort is architectural innovation and associated evidence demonstrating the positive effects of childcare center indoor-outdoor transitional spaces on child and teacher behavior.  Initiated by the research grant, this proposed R&D project is expected to provide a gateway to creating the first viable prototype of a transitional play and learning space. Findings will be translated into design guidelines demonstrating how a transitional space can become an integral part of the outdoor learning environment and add pedagogical value to classroom design.

GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 27, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We call it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!)

Our 2018 Giving TuesPLAY goal is to fund at least one Research Grant and one Action Grant for our upcoming
10th Anniversary season.  We are on our way, thanks to a jump start challenge from our amazing steering committee. Now we challenge you! All funds raised on Giving TuesPLAY go to our grant fund – 100% of it!

To support great projects like this, make sure to donate to #GivingTuesPLAY TODAY!  You can help us provide action and research grants in 2019 with your Giving TuesPLAY gift!

 

 

 


Program Educating on Access to Play for Under-Resourced Children, Especially Girls of Color, Supported by Giving TuesPLAY Funds

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

One of the 2018 Action Grants will support access to play for under-resourced children in Charleston, SC, especially girls and girls of color.  Leaders at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry in Charleston will host “Unequal PLAYing Field: A Panel Discussion on the Importance of Accessing Equal Play for Girls and Girls of Color.”  

The panel and related training will advance ideas and share information about disparities in access to safe, equitable play options for under-resourced children, especially girls and girls of color. Panelists are experts in the field of play, child development, and working with under-resourced communities and will offer first-hand knowledge about the challenges and opportunities to level the playing field for all children. The panel will target teachers, educators, advocates, parents and administrators to spark action on behalf of all Charleston’s children, especially those in under-served communities and communities of color.

GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 27, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We call it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!)

Our 2018 Giving TuesPLAY goal is to fund at least one Research Grant and one Action Grant for our upcoming
10th Anniversary season.  We are on our way, thanks to a jump start challenge from our amazing steering committee. Now we challenge you! All funds raised on Giving TuesPLAY go to our grant fund – 100% of it!

To support great projects like this, make sure to donate to #GivingTuesPLAY TODAY!  You can help us provide action and research grants in 2019 with your Giving TuesPLAY gift!

 

 

 


Here is YOUR chance to GIVE the
gift of PLAY on Giving TuesPLAY!

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday is #GivingTuesday. It is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We call it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!) Big or small, your gift MATTERS!!

Grant funding is a distinctive feature of our annual Play Conference, and we are proud to have awarded $52,000 in funding to date.   The 2018 grant winners are utilizing play to help children build friendships, providing access especially for girls of color, and linking architecture design with classroom pedagogy.  Check out all of the projects our grants have supported over the years – https://usplaycoalition.org/action-research-grants

Our 2018 Giving TuesPLAY goal is to fund at least one Research Grant and one Action Grant for our upcoming
10th Anniversary season.  We are on our way, thanks to a jump start challenge from our amazing steering committee. Now we challenge you! All funds raised on Giving TuesPLAY go to our grant fund – 100% of it!

YOU can help us provide action and research grants in 2019 with your Giving TuesPLAY gift!  Join the global movement and donate on Tuesday, November 27! Big or small, your gift MATTERS!! We can’t wait to share the future of play with you!


Support Play Trailblazers Like These When You Support Giving TuesPLAY!

This Giving Tuesday, consider donating to Giving TuesPLAY! The support we receive on Giving TuesPLAY helps to fund our wonderful grant winners. These winning projects are trailblazers in the world of play, and we need your help to get them going!

One of our 2018 Action Grant winners is a project called “Loose Parts Play Builds Tight Communities” from Pure Play Every Day, Inc.

In 2017, in her first year as a US Play Coalition Play Ambassador, Patty Stine took advantage of an invitation to participate in the National Night Out (NNO) event at the Huntington Neighborhood Association in Waldorf, MD. She took her minivan and trailer full of play materials to the community center, set up her shade tent, then set out all the loose parts play materials. When the children arrived, they were drawn in by the unique collection of materials that allowed them to have freedom to choose where the play would go. It didn’t take long for them to dive into their evening of adventure. They dug in the sand in the sand and scooped water from the PVC sand and water table. They mixed water from the recycled laundry detergent containers with the sand. They added a bedsheet roof to the cardboard box playhouse. While the children designed, created, built and created new friendships, she snapped a few photos to share the glory of play with the world through Twitter.  This experience was the inspiration for this 2018 Action Grant winning project.

“As children play, they form friendships that cross economic and cultural differences,” says Patty Stine of Pure Play Every Day, Inc. 

With the 2018 action grant project, the Pure Play Every Day team recruited childcare professionals across their county to participate in a loose parts play training program.  In turn, the newly trained professionals could facilitate loose parts play as an available activity for the families attending their community’s NNO event. Pure Play Every Day, Inc. provided the trainees with a loose parts play starter kit as well as a training manual for sharing the purpose and value of play and suggestions for setting-up for loose parts play.

The photos in this post are highlights from some of this year’s Loose Parts Play at the National Night Out events.  Much more is coming from the Pure Play Every Day team!

GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 27, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We call it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!)

To support PLAYful projects like this and others, be sure to donate on Giving TuesPLAY – Tuesday, November 27!  YOU can help us provide action and research grants in 2019 with your Giving TuesPLAY gift!

Join the global movement and donate on Tuesday, November 27!  Big or small, your gift MATTERS!! We can’t wait to share the future of play with you!

 


Here is YOUR chance to GIVE the
gift of PLAY on Giving TuesPLAY!

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday is #GivingTuesday. It is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We call it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!) Big or small, your gift MATTERS!!

Grant funding is a distinctive feature of our annual Play Conference, and we are proud to have awarded $52,000 in funding to date.   Check out the projects our grants have supported over the years – https://usplaycoalition.org/action-research-grants

Our 2018 Giving TuesPLAY goal is to fund at least one Research Grant and one Action Grant for our upcoming
10th Anniversary season.  We are on our way, thanks to a jump start challenge from our amazing steering committee. Now we challenge you! All funds raised on Giving TuesPLAY go to our grant fund – 100% of it!

YOU can help us provide action and research grants in 2019 with your Giving TuesPLAY gift!  Join the global movement and donate on Tuesday, November 27! Big or small, your gift MATTERS!! We can’t wait to share the future of play with you!


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


Outstanding Play Researcher and Practitioner Awards Announced at 2018 Play Conference

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to introduce its 2018 PLAY award recipients, announced at the Celebration Gala of the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play.  Established in 2017, the awards program recognizes outstanding play researchers and youth practitioners.  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 Play Conference.

Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

The 2018 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research was presented to Dr. Olga Jarrett, Professor Emerita of early childhood/science education at Georgia State University, evaluator of an NSF project in Belize, and a past president of The Association for the Study of Play and the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play.

The award, named for Joe L. Frost, the contemporary father of play advocacy, recognizes a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play. 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.

When Joe Frost himself learned of the selection committee’s choice, he wrote, “The committee has made a GREAT CHOICE. Olga is a great teacher, researcher and friend.”

Dr. Jarrett’s nominator said this in his nomination:

Dr. Jarrett has a 25-year career devoted to play advocacy and play research.  Much of her research has focused on play deprivation and its effect on economically deprived and minority children.  Using her research as support, she initiated and helped to draft legislation in Georgia that would make playtime and recess mandatory for all school children.  Her research has shown that poor and minority children are more likely to be play deprived than more advantaged children.  Dr. Jarrett has supervised many doctoral students who have conducted play research and who also have been involved in play advocacy.  Dr. Jarrett has also extended her advocacy internationally.

YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award

The U.S. Play Coalition also teamed with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute to present the Youth Development Practitioner Award. The award recognizes outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.

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

The 2018 YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award recipient is Pat Rumbaugh, a play advocate and co-founder of Let’s Play America. She is known as “The Play Lady”, has for more than 10 years, been an advocate, author, and participant in play activities for youth and the young at heart. Pat has made youth development and play her life’s work, from the time she began her career as a physical education teacher to now as she provides multiple avenues for youth to grow in their play lives, but also, hone valuable business skills, learning advocacy and community involvement from one of the best.  She also wrote a children’s book called, “Let’s Play at the Playground,” which encourages children to choose outdoor play and sparks their imagination while looking at the full page photographs.


Research Project on Pediatric Therapy Garden Another Beneficiary of Giving TuesPLAY Funds

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

 

Supported by our 2017 Research Seed Grant, Dr. Shan Jiang, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture/Environmental Design at West Virginia University, has led her research team on two research projects related to “Healing through Play: Play Opportunities as Positive Distractions at Pediatric Healthcare Environment.”

Jointly supported by Landscape Architecture Foundation 2017 Case Study Investigation Fellowship, Dr. Jiang conducted a diagnostic post-occupancy evaluation study on a pediatric therapy garden at Virtua Voorhees Hospital, New Jersey. Dr. Jiang and her research assistant, Sofija Kaljevic, visited the hospital, evaluated the restorative design features of the garden using site survey tools. Users’ opinions on the garden design as positive distractions were also explored through two focus group discussions onsite. 

 

Another study is a systematic literature review that examines the effect of positive distractions on hospital occupants in pediatric healthcare facilities.  In this review, twenty-five studies were collected for analysis from architectural and medicine databases. Findings highlighted the importance of incorporating positive design elements, such as interactive play devices, multi-sensory installations, and replications of the natural environment. This study has been developed to conference abstracts that are under review by Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 2018 Conference (CELA2018) and West Virginia University Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol.

Dr Jiang will also present an update on her research projects at the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play.

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

 

 


Grand Opening of Play Lab at UNO supported by Giving TuesPLAY Funds

Giving TuesPLAY is just around the corner! When you donate to the US Play Coalition, you help to fund our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement.

One of the 2017 Action Grants supported a PLAY Day to mark the official grand opening of the Play Lab at University of Nebraska Omaha. The Play Lab is an interactive, hands-on classroom specially designed to prepare aspiring teachers in the theory, science and application of play as an educational technique. Up-and-running as a classroom since August, the space encourages teacher candidates in Early Childhood Education programs to collaborate and explore in a space that reflects a real-world early childhood setting.

Play Lab is the brainchild of Associate Professor of Early Childhood Dr. Debora Wisneski and Peggy Pawloski, a play environment designer and former kindergarten teacher. The non-traditional classroom features beautifully-designed furniture units, a puppet theater, comfy soft seating, and a communal workspace, all designed by Pawloski with the intent to bring “joy and playfulness to the work and school environment.”

The PLAY Day grand opening event brought together College of Education faculty, staff, and teacher candidates; early childhood community partners; preschoolers and parents; and UNO early childhood donors. During the day-long open house, participants enjoyed presentations, free play time, and storybook readings by Bruce Arant, followed by a gratitude ceremony and reception.

To support great projects like this, make sure to donate to #GivingTuesPLAY on November 28!

Photos Courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Omaha