Inaugural “Health and PLAY” Institute to Launch at the 2021 Play Conference

“Health and PLAY” Institute

Sunday, March 28, 2021, 9:00am to 5:00pm
Madren Conference Center, Clemson University
Pre-registration is required, and participants are expected to participate for the entire institute.

The US Play Coalition is thrilled to announce an innovative one-day program featuring health experts from across the country and aimed specifically at health practitioners.  The inaugural “Health and PLAY” Institute will examine the synergies between play and health on Sunday, March 28, as part of the 2021 Conference on the Value of Play

Michael Suk, MD, a leading advocate on health and nature, outdoor recreation as a gateway to better health, and “play for life” champion, will be our Chair and 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 addition to his role as a Steering Committee Member for the US Play Coalition, 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.

Topics and honored faculty of the “Health and PLAY” Institute include (to date):

The Science of Play: What We Know
In this session, we will explore the history of play science and its relationship to human interaction, brain development and as a potential medical intervention. Confirmed panelists for this session:

  • Stuart Brown, MD, 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.
  • Jessica M. Black, PhD, is pioneering and directing advancement of cognitive, educational and social neuroscience into social work research, education and training. Dr. Black is an Educational Neuroscientist and an Associate Professor at the Boston College School of Social Work. She is Chair of Children, Youth and Families Concentration and is the Chair of Teaching Excellence. Dr. Black directs the Cell to Society Lab that fuses biological and psycho-social fields to improve youth wellbeing.
  • Jenny Radesky, MD – Dr. Radesky is a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician whose research focuses on family digital media use, child social-emotional development, and parent-child interaction.  She uses a combination of observational, qualitative, and passive sensing methods to examine how parents and young children use mobile media throughout daily routines.  She authored the 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics digital media guidelines for young children.

The Role of Play in Society
In this session, we ask you to explore the role of play from a population viewpoint and the role of non-profit advocacy groups and state government. Confirmed panelists for this session:

  • Erwin Tan, MD – Dr. Erwin Tan is Director of Thought Leadership – Health at AARP and a board-certified internist and geriatrician. He previously served as the director of Senior Corps at the Corporation for National and Community Service, where he oversaw the RSVP, Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs.
  • Hon. Jerome Loughridge, Secretary of Health and Mental Health, State of Oklahoma. In this position, he oversees Oklahoma’s health care industry that employs more than 215,000 professionals and has an impact of roughly $11.8 billion annually. Under Governor Kevin Stitt, Loughridge has been charged given the tasks of repairing Oklahoma’s rural health infrastructure, decreasing the number of uninsured Oklahomans and making Oklahoma a healthier state with a greater quality of life
  • Sarah Griffin, PhD, professor of Public Health Science at Clemson University, has over twenty years of experience in public health with a specific interest in eliminating health disparities. Dr. Griffin serves as Principal Investigator of the Greenville Health System (GHS) School-Based Health Center implementation study for OnTrack Greenville. She is also Co-Principal Investigator for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obesity prevention initiative with rural health extension

Provider Wellbeing and Burnout: Does Play Have a Role?
During this session, we would like to you to share your thoughts on the widely recognized and growing epidemic of physician “burnout,” with an eye toward using Play as a tool combat what many refer to as “moral injury.” Confirmed panelists for this session:

  • Marie Brown, MD, is a practicing internist, an associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush Medical College, the director of practice redesign for the American Medical Association, and the immediate past governor of the American College of Physicians (ACP). Dr. Brown is a frequent guest lecturer at academic, national and international health care conferences. Her areas of expertise include: practice transformation, joy in medicine, adult immunizations, medication adherence and diabetes.
  • Brooke Buckley, MD, FACS, 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.
  • Caroline Cárdenas, MSN, RN, CBCN, is a Masters-prepared oncology nurse, hoopdance teacher, and evangelist for play and physical movement as a means to preventing and recovering from burnout and compassion fatigue. She’s also the creator of The Hula Hoop Girl, an Embodied Movement Meditation Self-Care Body Play Practice that guides women to reconnect to their natural born rhythm, replenish their joy, and cultivate their creative courage.

Using Play as Bridge Between Technologies
During this session, we would like to you to introduce your specific technology platform and discuss how aspects of “Play” can be a bridge to consumer engagement and/or better health outcomes.  Invited panelists for this session:

  • Meaghan Praznik, is a health and wellness, social media expert and Head of Communications & Partnerships, AllTrails. She is a 13-time IRONMAN finisher and qualifier for the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships.
  • Amy Babington is Vice President of Client Success & Strategy at Force Therapeutics, leading a team that is responsible for supporting the patient and provider end users of the Force platform. In her tenure, she has been an integral part of the team to build out important functions and determine the needs of Force’s client base and market.


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.