PAW Prints and Beyond: Mary Ann Rintoul

This is the first in a series that our Play Ambassador Coordinator Ryan Fahey
is doing to highlight people and businesses doing what we love…PLAY!  Since Ryan lives in Canada, many of his features will be on our neighbors to the north, broadening the global reach of our Play Coalition.

Recently I sat down with Professor Rintoul from the University of Alberta to discuss why she places such a high value on play. Rintoul goes beyond being passionate for play as she currently runs the PAW campaign and is heavily involved with IPA. Along with these accomplishments, we are glad to have Professor Rintoul involved with the US Play Coalition as a Play Ambassador as she continues to promote the value of play!MaryAnn Rintoul

  1. What is your favourite thing to do that is playful? Why do you think play is so impor
    tant?

This is a tricky question….as I believe play is not always defined as an activity (thing to do) but as a state of mind. We can be playful all the time! If I were to pick a couple of my top playful things to do, I would say dancing and exploring ocean shores (I love rocks). 

  1. What is “Play Around The World”?

Play Around the World (PAW) is a credit course that is designed to provide University of Alberta students with a 3-month cross-cultural volunteer experience either internationally or in Canada. Offered by the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, Canada, students from diverse educational backgrounds form learning communities which are structured to provide a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to learning, leadership, and programming. The main purpose of Play Around the World is to provide students with an opportunity to develop a sense of global awareness and citizenry through a service-learning course focused on Play Provision (United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child). This is achieved through collaboration with various schools, government agencies, and community-based organizations where students work with staff members to provide opportunities for play, sport, and physical activity to children and youth of all abilities. Play is viewed as a vehicle to enliven the human spirit and to promote optimal development.  By working with international and/or Canadian partners, students undergo a meaningful learning experience that enhances their global education in a variety of areas (somewhat dependent on site location) including: culture; the cultural dimensions of play, sport, recreation, and physical activity; issues of child poverty; globalization; the effects of tourism and sex tourism; and the rights of the child as well as the rights of persons with a disability. Play Around the World began in 2001. 

  1. What first got you interested in “Play Around The World” and why?

The former Director and Founder, Jane Vallentyne was a colleague and friend. From the start of the program (2001) I was a supporter and always attended student fundraising events along with the public presentations. There was always something about the program that not only resonated with my work in the Faculty teaching children’s movement activities, but also aligned with many of my values regarding global citizenship and service learning. 

  1. What has been your greatest highlight since being involved with “Play Around The World”?

Perhaps the greatest highlight, among many, would be the expansion to our Cambodia placement site in 2009 – 2010. Personal connections to this country make the work we have established there especially rewarding. 

  1. What do you think the future of play looks like? How does “Play Around The World” support what that looks like?

It is very encouraging to see the profile of play in Canada beginning to rise to the platform it deserves. The Child’s Right to Play as outlined in the UN Convention on the Right of the Child is starting to catch the attention of many provincial and national organizations and small pockets of play advocates are spreading the declaration of the importance of play in the lives of children and adults alike. Play Around the World, as a not-for-profit organization, supports local initiatives by planning and implementing Playdays with agencies such as the YMCA or City of Edmonton as well as special events such as National Child Day celebrations. Alumni of the program are often called upon as ‘play leaders’ to facilitate sessions with children and families. Our main contribution to supporting the future of play is in the form of ‘time and talents’. 

Thank you for all that you do to promote the value of play Mary Ann!


#Playful Kids

monkeybars2Recently we sat down with Evie Houtz, Program Specialist for Be Active Kids in Raleigh, NC. Evie is a mother of two playful kids. She is a role model for living an active, healthy lifestyle! Here is what Evie had to say when we chatted with her about Play!

“As Play Ambassadors, it is our job teach our children how to be playful and physically active just as much as it is our job to teach them morals, values, social skills, and educational concepts.   Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure.   Physically active children will develop gross motor skills that later help them to take part in games and sports with their peers.  Physical activity helps children build strong hearts, muscles and bones, improve thinking skills, develop positive self-esteem and confidence and just have fun.

Kids of all ages need both structured and unstructured physically active play throughout the day.   Structured activities are adult led and have a specific learning objective.  This type of physical activity includes games like Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light and organized sports like t-ball or soccer.  Young children should get between 60-90 minutes of structured physical activity throughout the day.  Many of these structured activities help the child to learn a motor skill or increase competency in movement.  In addition children should take part in at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity or free play.  This type of physical activity is child centered, child led and child initiated.  Unstructured physical activity includes things like fort building, climbing trees, running around pretending to be magical beings or super heroes, or creating a city out of boxes.  Unstructured free play helps a child to be more creative, learn to experiment, to work cooperatively, and to think more critically.  Both types of physical activity should be spread throughout the day.

In helping a child to play more, know that you have many items you around you each day that can be used for active play.  We all have milk jugs that can turn in to targets or balls, sticks that can used as swords, plastic bags that turn into juggling scarves and mud that can be thrown to ward off the bad guys.  It takes some creativity, courage and a little out-of-the-box thinking, but it is so important. Getting kids active is essential to their long term health and well-being.   Studies have shown that the motivation to be active (exercise) in adulthood can be influenced by childhood experiences.”

For more ideas or how to use inexpensive items to increase physical activity, check out the Be Active Kids 8 one-pagers.

 

By: Ryan Fahey, B.Ed, BKin

Ryan is a new regular blogger for the US Play Coalition.  He is working to develop our Play Ambassador program and spread the word about the Value of Play.