VIDEO: A conversation about “The Relationship between Play and Relationships”

The US Play Coalition and IPA-USA invite you to join us for “The Relationship between Play and Relationships” with Rusty Keeler, Claude Stephens and Megan Dickerson.

Holding space for play in our communities is built upon developing relationships and then continuously working to improve them. That isn’t always straight forward work and it doesn’t always go as planned.

This session will explore how the concept of emergent strategies supports relationship development and what might spring from that. Plan on being part of the conversation.

NOTE: This recorded presentation is included in our 2020 ONLINE Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR ALL content.

Rusty Keeler
Rusty Keeler is a natural playscape designer and author who for nearly 30 years has traveled the world designing outdoor play environments and speaking about the benefits and beauty of saying “yes” to children’s play. Described as a blend of Mister Rogers and Jerry Garcia, Rusty is the author of multiple books on play and playscapes including the upcoming book Adventures in Risky Play: what is your yes? He is the co-founder of the social justice initiative the “Just Play Project” in Ithaca, NY which works to support all children’s right to play. With Rusty’s help the city of Ithaca declared itself America’s first “Free Range Kid” city to support children’s rights and initiate community conversation about children’s play, equity, and mobility.

Megan Dickerson
Megan Dickerson is an exhibition experience developer, playworker and community organizer. Her twenty-year museum career has included work at contemporary art museums, historic sites, and children’s museums. At Boston Children’s Museum for over a decade, Megan oversaw museum-community partnerships. Bringing pop-up museums to public housing, community centers, libraries and parking lots. In her current role as Director of Exhibitions at San Diego’s The New Children’s Museum, Megan collaborates with artists to develop emergent, site-specific artworks for a family audience.

Megan is one of the first Americans to earn a Masters in Play and Playwork, a practice that originated on adventure playgrounds in the United Kingdom and in Scandinavia. Her research work has recently been published in the book Practice-Based Research in Children’s Play, and a new project, Occuplay Museums, seeks to continue the work of her mentor, the late Stuart Lester, in exploring possibilities for playfulness in museum settings.

Claude Stephens
Claude Stephens is the Facilitator of Outreach and Regenerative Design at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, Kentucky and the director of the Children at Play Network which is an ongoing project of Bernheim focused on working regionally to ensure equitable access to landscapes for play. The CAPN values play as part of healthy child development and as a means to reconnect children with nature in order to foster the next generation of environmental stewards. Claude has more than 34 years of experience working in museums and environmentally focused organizations. His academic background is in evolutionary ecology and biology which continues to frame his approach to how humans might build deeper and healthier relationships with the natural world.


This session is part of the 2020 ONLINE Conference on the Value of Play, launching on May 1 and featuring more than 50 recorded headliners, educational sessions and research symposium presentations. All “live” headliner presentations leading up to the official launch are open to registered online conference attendees. All live sessions are recorded and included in our online conference content (so don’t fret if you miss any!). There is still time to join some of the live sessions leading up to the online conference launch!




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 has been moved ONLINE for 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our first-ever online Play Conference!