Pre-Conference Institute – Change Agents for Play: Program Design Starts with Understanding Your Audience

Deborah Rhea, Ed.D. – Professor, Texas Christian University and Director, LiiNK™ Project
Alex Rivchun – Project/Budget Manager, LiiNK™ Project
Laura Clark – Research Associate, LiiNK™ Project
This workshop will focus on being change agents in our communities to design and communicate play initiatives that utilize both physical environment and social emotional learning components.

Our goals are to identify and discuss challenges facing schools and communities to integrate play into different environments; discuss what unstructured, outdoor play means and why social emotional learning (SEL) should be emphasized; finally, to identify different ways our groups can collaborate to bring change to our communities through different program designs. This workshop will also examine what local, state, and federal policies should be considered to strengthen resource availability for designing programs.”

Much has happened over the past 30 years in the U.S. to the detriment of children’s health and academic enthusiasm. Parents are in an uproar over the lack of recess in the schools. Our culture has adopted a much more aggressive stance on technology to teach and entertain children while providing very few opportunities to use natural resources through play to learn and create. In order to produce a healthier, academically grounded culture for our next generations of children, unstructured play should be a fundamental part of every school day for pre-kindergarten through adolescents. Much of the research has shown obesity trends can be reversed, health benefits can be increased more long term, and children will be more vested in learning when given time to explore and problem solve through play and physical activity. How we design play in our communities is only as effective as understanding the audience making decisions about play in that environment.

Workshop Outline/Objectives:

Hour 1: Participants will identify current play initiatives; identify strengths & barriers common to their program implementation; and identify their target audience.

Hour 2:  We will focus on the patterns identified in the first hour and develop 2-3 ways the attendees can become change agents through play design initiatives

Hour 3:  We will focus on developing ideas to effectively communicate their initiatives to identified target audiences, as well as developing 2-3 strategies that move the attendees’ initiatives forward through local, state, and federal policies.

This and two other pre-conference institutes are available ONLY to conference attendees as an add-on option.  Cost to attend an institute is $25.  Pre-registration is required.