This annual conference brings together leading 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 country.

“PLAY FOR ALL” will explore play across the lifespan and address universal issues of health, education, access, equity, inclusion, design and more.

The three-day event includes keynote and featured speakers, PLAYtalks, PLAYinstitutes, research symposium, educational sessions, roundtables, grant opportunities, networking, and opportunities for play.

SPECIAL NOTE!  Our conference programming begins on SUNDAY MORNING this year, so we hope you will plan to arrive by Saturday, March 28.  Our events go ALL the way through Tuesday evening with special activities.  To get the full Play Conference experience, plan to leave on Wednesday, April 1.

Keynote Panelist

John J. Whyte, MD
Chief Medical Officer, WebMD

“Social Media, Consumerism, Health and the Connection to PLAY”

Learn more…

Keynote Panelist

Lise Aangeenbrug
Executive Director, Outdoor Foundation
(soon to be the Executive Director of the Outdoor Industry Association)

“Getting Kids, Families and Communities PLAYING Outside”

Read on…


PLAYinstitutes are multi-hour, topic-specific trainings that take place throughout the Play Conference.  Pre-registration is required, and participants are expected to participate for the entire institute.

2020 Institutes cover four distinct areas:

“Health and PLAY”
Chaired and moderated by Michael Suk, MD, with sessions presented by health experts from across the country.  Topics covered with this 5-hour institute on Sunday, March 29 include:

  • The Science of Play: What We Know
  • The Role of Play in Society
  • Play and the Ecosystem of Health
  • Provider Wellbeing and Burnout: Does Play Have a Role?
  • Using Play as Bridge Between Technologies

“PLAY and Early Childhood”
Chaired and moderated by Dee Stegelin, PhD, Professor Emeritus-Clemson University, with sessions presented by early childhood education experts from across the country.  Topics covered with this 6-hour institute on Sunday, March 29 include:

  • Play and STEM
  • Play and Literacy
  • Outdoor Learning Environments and Play
  • Play and Safety
  • Trauma-informed Education
  • Play and the Reggio Emilia Approach

“Design and PLAY”
Hosted by the South Carolina chapter of ASLA
LACES CEU approvals pending

Topics covered with this institute on Sunday, March 29 include:

  • Designing with Rope for Play
  • Raptors & Ruderals: What Do We Mean by ‘Nature Play’ in an Urban Environment?
  • Play Terrains
  • Free Aquatic Play in a Controlled World
  • National Study of Playgrounds

“Play and Art Go Hand In Hand”

Led by Jed Dearybury, award winning educator and noted speaker, this 2-hour institute will be on Tuesday, March 31.  Participants will explore the basics of making learning fun through the power of play and art.


PLAYtalk is our version of the famous TED Talk.  It is a 15-20 minute dynamic, entertaining, enlightening, engaging, inspiring, informative talk by thought leaders in the play world


Michael J. Hynes, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools (NYC Area) & Public School Advocate

“Creating a School Vision of PLAY and Wellness: The Importance of a Balanced Approach to Education”

Learn more…

Featured Speakers

  • “Magic of Play and Play Workshops”
    Yesim Kunter, play expert and futurist (England)

  • “Changing the 2020 World of Play”
    Yvonne Overmaat, president, YALP, Inc. (Netherlands)

  • “Engaging State Policymakers with Outdoor Play: Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook”
    Martin LeBlanc,
    Principal at LBC Action

  • “No Child’s Play- Teaching Early Childhood Sexual Harassment Prevention Through Play”
    Ayelet Giladi, PhD, Founder and Director of Voice of the Child Association (Israel)

  • “National Study of Playgrounds”
    Meghan Talarowski, MLA, CPSI
    Founder and Director, Studio Ludo

  • “Do They Even Know About Play?: Ways to Help Young Adults Reconnect with Play”
    Heather VonBank, PhD; Brad Putman, PhD; Erica Walker, PhD; Alison Leonard, PhD; Pam Davis

Research, Educational & Poster Sessions

The Play Research Symposium provides opportunities for a scholarly exchange surrounding play. Sessions will include several 15 minute presentations grouped by theme with a 15 minute Q&A to follow the series.

Educational Sessions are opportunities to share and discover innovative play strategies and play research. These 50-minute sessions are more interactive and aimed at practitioners.

PLAY Workshops are hour-long, hands-on, interactive PLAY learning sessions.  Workshop lineup TBA.

Poster Presentations will display from Sunday through the Tuesday closing banquet.  Poster presenters will accompany their posters during the pre-banquet reception on Tuesday.

Stay tuned for a schedule overview.

Session Themes

All our sessions will be classified into the following themes to help attendees find the sessions that most interest them:

Education & Play – Play is a vital part of the learning equation, both in and out of the classroom. The faces of those learning while at play are some of the most engaging! Consider play as a vehicle for learning through both traditional and nontraditional settings including schools, camps, afterschool programs, museums, zoos, aquariums, parks & recreation departments, faith-based spaces, and more.

Health, Recreation & Play – Play is a building block for healthy living. Examine health and physical activity trends related to play, healthy benefits of play, and the intersection of health and recreation to insure a healthy face of play.

Nature Based & Outdoor Play – The faces of play are often wet, muddy, and sun-glistened from hours spent outdoors. Focus on play in nearby and far away nature–backyards, parks, creeks, lakes, trails, wetlands, and beyond.

Accessible & Inclusive Play – Play should be accessible, available, and open to all. Advance the field for play for all abilities, all shapes, all sizes, all colors.

Multi/Intergenerational & Adults at Play – Promoting play throughout life is our mission. Explore how adults (college-aged to retirees) play and how adults share and benefit from play with children.

Designing for Play – Landscape architects, architects, designers, city planners, and civic groups are invaluable experts, practitioners and resources for PLAY. These sessions will be submitted for LACES and AIA CEU approval.

Emerging Trends in Play – Play is changing! The Play movement is growing! Explore the latest in play- technology, social media, politics, policies, and more.

International/Global Play – Play looks very different around the world. Share play practices, history, and culture from countries across the globe.

Nuts & Bolts – From play basics to play essentials. Share tips, trainings, techniques and tools for PLAY.


Continuing Education Units

Clemson University awards CEUs for your participation in sessions at The Conference on the Value of Play. All keynotes, featured, research and educational sessions are 50 minutes in length.  Participants can be awarded .05 CEUs for each of these sessions attended. Institutes are another CEU opportunity.  LA CES and AIA Learning Units are pending for select sessions within the “Landscape Architecture, Architecture & Design” track.  Additional paperwork will be required.

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

Play Collaborators