Physician and Author to give PLAYtalk on “Playful Intelligence”

Anthony T. DeBenedet, MD, will be a PLAYtalk presenter at the  2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play, April 8-11, at Clemson University.

DeBenedet is a practicing physician and behavioral-science enthusiast. His interviews and writings have run in various media outlets, including the New York Times, the Today show, the Washington Post, and TIME Ideas. He is also author of Playful Intelligence: The Power of Living Lightly in a Serious World (Santa Monica Press, 2018), a book about the hidden ways that playfulness influences adulthood, and co-authored The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It (Quirk Books, 2011), a parenting book about the importance of parent–child physical play.

DeBenedet’s 2018 PLAYtalk presentation is titled “Playful Intelligence.” Blending counterintuitive observations, anecdotes, and research across a range of disciplines―notably medicine, psychology, sociology, history, neuroscience, and economics—DeBenedet’s PLAYtalk will explore how playfulness impacts everyday life in profound and unexpected ways.

In adulthood, stress has a monopolizing effect on much of what we do. Interestingly, in response to this, the amount of time we spend playing doesn’t change. But the playful part of our personalities does—and often to the detriment of our well-being. Playful Intelligence offers a framework for counteracting this change and keeping the power of living lightly within reach.

 

Chief Playmaker and Founder of The Life is Good Kids Foundation to Keynote the 2018 Play Conference

The US Play Coalition is thrilled to announce that Steve Gross will be the first keynote speaker for the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play, April 8-11, at Clemson University.

Steve Gross is the Founder and Chief Playmaker of the Life is Good Kids Foundation. He is a pioneer in utilizing playful engagement and meaningful relationships to overcome the devastating impact of early childhood trauma.

Steve’s 2018 keynote presentation is titled “Spreading the Power of Optimism through Play.”

Steve is serious about play – and its tremendous benefits for all people. The Life is good Kids Foundation is a non-profit organization that for twenty years has used play to help children overcome life threatening challenges such as poverty, violence and illness. A recognized expert in utilizing, joyful play to promote resiliency in children, he has extended those insights to adults, reconnecting them to the passionate, joyful and playful selves that enable them to be their best in and out of the workplace.

Through research, first-hand lessons learned in his crisis response efforts following Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake and his uniquely humorous and participatory engagement with audiences, Steve demonstrates how to use playfulness to energize individuals, teams and organizations – especially in challenging, change-filled times – allowing them to reach their full potential.

  

KaBoom! CEO to give PLAYtalk at 2017 Conference on the Value of Play

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Our next PLAYtalk presenter is determined to bring play everywhere, especially to low-resource communities in the United States.  James Siegal is CEO of KaBOOM!, the national non-profit that seeks to give all kids the childhood they deserve, filled with play.  KaBOOM! is dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.

James Siegal says that, in addition to building play spaces in low-income neighborhoods, KaBOOM! urges local leaders to take steps to create equitable, kid-friendly cities.  “The conversations about improving cities all too often ignore the needs of kids and families,” he says.

Most recently, KaBOOM! hosted The Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million competkaboom-logo-tagline-1200x630ition to help kids access innovative play spaces.

For his PLAYtalk, James will discuss “Transforming Every Day Spaces into PLAYces”.

PLAYtalks are our Play Conference version of TED Talks. They will be a series of 15-20 minute dynamic, entertaining, enlightening, engaging, inspiring, informative talks by thought leaders in the play world.

Learn more about the conference by clicking here.

Early bird registration is now open!


Play Like a Girl Founder to give PLAYtalk at 2017 Play Conference

drk-headshotKimberly S. Clay, PhD, MPH, MSW
Founder & Executive Director, Play Like A Girl!®

Inspiring play. Unlocking potential.
So girls can do extraordinary things.
Play Like A Girl® is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women and girls to be healthy and confident through sport, physical activity, and active play.  Founder and executive director Dr. Kimberly Clay will share her passion for helping girls reach their full potential and her latest efforts to #bringbackplay – starting in backyards, neighborhood parks and schools across the South.

Dr. Kimberly Clay began her career as a social worker and public health analyst.  In 2004, she surged onto the research scene as a National Institutes of Health Cancer Prevention and Control Fellow at the Minority Health Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. During her work, Dr. Kim visited local communities and witnessed the gender gap in physical activity and health-related outcomes firsthand, which led her to start Play Like A Girl!®.  Dr. Kim has also served as Public Health Advisor for the Centers Disease Control and Prevention and was a tenure-track professor at the University of Georgia until she took a sabbatical to lead Play Like A Girl!®plg-logo

Dr. Kim has been named one of Toyota’s Everyday Heroes, Xavier University’s 40 Under 40, and one of 50 People on the Move by the Nashville Business Journal.

Learn more about the conference by clicking here.

Early bird registration is now open!


How I PLAYED During My First Sabbatical

The Story of How the Midwest Play Conference Came to Be

heather von bank
I love my job. Not many people can say that with a straight face, but I can. After my 6th year of working as a professor at Minnesota State University – Mankato, the opportunity came to apply for my first sabbatical.  When asked about my sabbatical plans a question mark seemed to loom over my head.  I love teaching and working with students, but what else could I possibly do that would provide me with the same rewards that I get while being in the classroom? Then my lightbulb moment occurred.  lightbulb

I wanted my sabbatical project to be meaningful for my own research and academic interests, but I also wanted the project make an impact on my community. I’ve been attending the US Play Coalition Value of Play Conference every year for 5 years. I’ve had the opportunity to meet playful passionate people, learn about national and international efforts to promote play and found countless ways to improve my teaching and scholarship through professional development practices. I wanted to replicate the formula and create a regional conference in partnership with the US Play Coalition, to bring the message about the importance of play to individuals in the Midwest.  Why the Midwest?  Besides the fact that I live here, there are so many educators and professionals who are passionate about play but were not familiar with the US Play Coalition, particularly in this region.

So…the first ever regional US Play Coalition conference will be held June 25th in Mankato, Minnesota. The Midwest Play Conference will feature Lisa Murphy, a motivational midwest play logospeaker who has years of experience working in early childhood settings, who encourages teachers, parents, and community members to be messy and playful in working with children. The conference will also feature 20 presenters who will be speaking on a variety of topics like nature play, play in early childhood classrooms, ideas for bringing nature inside, and ways to support teachers and their professional development with playful methods. The Midwest Play Conference was designed to reach out to caregivers, parents, community members, and recreation, parks and leisure services professionals, but will be beneficial for anyone who values and supports play.  By attending the conference, attendees will gain a greater appreciation and understanding of local and regional efforts to support play. Who knows, maybe it will be your chance to create a regional conference next!


Renowned Psychologist Peter Gray to give first ever PLAYtalk

Peter A 2 copyOur first ever PLAYtalk presenter will be renowned psychologist Dr. Peter Gray. PLAYtalks are our Play Conference version of TED Talks.  They will be a series of 15-20 minute dynamic, entertaining, enlightening, engaging, inspiring, informative talks by thought leaders in the play world.

Dr. Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College, has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education.  He is author of an internationally acclaimed introductory psychology textbook (Psychology, Worth Publishers, now in its 7thedition), which views all of psychology from an evolutionary perspective.

Gray’s recent research focuses on the roles of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so. He has expanded on these ideas in his recent book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books, 2013). He also authors a popular blog called Freedom to Learn, for Psychology Today magazine.

We are thrilled that Dr. Gray will be with us for The Play Conference 2016! Learn more about the conference by clicking here.

Early bird registration is now open!


Founder of Outdoor Afro to Keynote The Play Conference 2016

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to announce that Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro, will be a keynote speaker for The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play, April 3-6, at Clemson University.

Outdoor Afro is a community that reconnects African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping,hiking, biking, birding, fishing, gardening, skiing – and PLAY!  Learn how this cutting edge concept grew from Rue’s modest blog in 2009 to a national network that has captured the attention and imagination of millions through a multi-media approach, grounded in personal connections and community organizing.  Rue will share the Outdoor Afro model for creating opportunities to build community and leadership by PLAYing together in nature.

In 2010, Rue Mapp was invited to the White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference, and subsequently to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. She was appointed program officer for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment to oversee its grant-making program from 2010-2012.

Since that time, Mapp’s work has been featured in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Backpacker Magazine, Ebony Magazine, Sunset Magazine, NPR, and many others.

Rue’s ongoing work has been recognized with numerous Awards and Distinctions: The Root 100 as one of the most influential African Americans in the country, Outdoor Industry Inspiration Award, 2014 National Wildlife Federation Communication award (received alongside President Bill Clinton) and in May 2015, Family Circle Magazine selected Rue as one of America’s 20 Most Influential Moms.

Rue is proud to serve on the Board of Rails to Trails Conservancy, American Camp Association, and the Outdoor Industry Association. Most recently, Rue was appointed to the California State Parks Commission by Governor Jerry Brown.

A graduate of UC Berkeley (with a Degree in Art History), Rue’s skills and background make her a unique voice via the programs she has instituted through OA and enlightened a diverse community to the wonders and benefits of the outdoors. Rue resides in Oakland CA, and is the proud mother of three active teenage children.

We are thrilled that Rue will be with us for The Play Conference 2016! Learn more about the conference by clicking here.

Early bird registration is now open!


Founder of Free Range Kids to Keynote The Play Conference 2016

The US Play Coalition is thrilled to announce that Lenore Skenazy will be the first keynote speaker for The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play, April 3-6, at Clemson University.  She is founder of the book, blog and movement, “Free-Range Kids”lenore collage, which launched the anti-helicopter parenting crusade.  Her keynote presentation, “Free Range Kids: Raising Safe, Self-Reliant, PLAYFUL Children without Going Nuts with Worry,” will examine our culture’s obsession with risk, and how to flip it to an obsession with play.

A public speaker, Lenore Skenazy has lectured everywhere from Microsoft headquarters to the Sydney Opera House. She’s also a frequent guest on talk shows and has written for everyone from The Daily News (where she was a reporter for 14 years) to Mad Magazine. Yep. THE Mad Magazine (She’s funny!).  Skenazy has been profiled in The New York Times and The New Yorker, and was recently featured on The Daily Show with John Stewart.

The goal of Free-Range Kids is “fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.”

A graduate of Yale and Columbia, Lenore Skenazy lives in New York City with her husband and teen sons who are half-Free-Range and half social media addicts. Then again, so is she.

Learn more about The Play Conference 2016 by clicking here.

Early bird registration is now open!


The VERY FIRST to register for The Play Conference 2016 is…!

The VERY FIRST to register for The Play Conference 2016 is Sarah Cosco from British Columbia (seen front and center in the boxes pictured right). The three time Play Conference alum says this about why she keeps coming back: “What I love most about the conferences: the people and the energy! There is so much passion about play and it comes from within people from all different backgrounds. The interdisciplinary lens captures the magnitude of play’s influence across the lifespan, and across the globe, and having the opportunity to connect with experts in play from all of these different backgrounds brings our collective learning to a whole new level. But we don’t just talk the talk at the conference, we walk it too! I have so much fun playing with so many people, and each time I go I meet new friends and get to reconnect with familiar faces. It honestly feels like coming home. I can’t wait for next year’s conference, I’m so excited to see what everyone has been up to and what playful shenanigans we can get into while we’re there!”

Join Sarah and hundreds of other play advocates at The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play.  Early bird registration is now open! 


2016 Play Conference Gets a REBOOT

The US Play Coalition is beyond excited to announce that next year’s conference is NEW AND IMPROVED! In fact, it has been REBOOTED!  New Dates, New Approaches, New Opportunities.

The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play is April 3-6, 2016 at the Madren Conference Center in Clemson, SC.

Building on the energy and innovation that came from our snowy and sometimes “power-free” 2015 conference, there will be new elements for the 2016 conference – round tables, fireside chats, coffee talks and “Play Talks.” The dates have also been changed to April to (hopefully) avoid the snow!

Round tables will feature knowledgeable facilitators around critical issues and trends in the field. Fireside Chats and Coffee Talks will harness the organic opportunities for networking, collaborating and research. And “Play Talks,” our version of TED Talks, will be a series of 15-20 minute dynamic, entertaining, enlightening, engaging, inspiring, informative talks by thought leaders in the play world. These new components, coupled with traditional presentations and our epic PLAY breaks will make The Play Conference an event not to be missed. Be sure to mark your calendars!!

While you are marking your calendar, you may want to reserve your hotel room.  The James F. Martin Inn is attached to the Madren Conference Center. A block of rooms has been reserved for conference attendees for only $109 per night (does NOT include breakfast). A block of rooms is also available at the Holiday Inn Express in Clemson for $99/night including breakfast. We will have a regular complimentary shuttle from there to the conference and back.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Email Stephanie Garst at spgarst@clemson.edu for more details. A call for Presentation Proposals will be out in early September.