Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out at the Library: Play for Teens and Emerging Adults

Summer Blog Series #2 – Libraries & PLAY
“Play for Teens and Emerging Adults”

In 2016, the American Library Association published the book Adults Just Wanna Have Fun: Programs for Emerging Adults, which “shows how to draw emerging adults to the library using a mixture of play and engagement and then keep them coming back for more.”

Public libraries exist to serve all ages, and yet there is a stereotype that people “age out” of libraries before returning later in life when they have young children.

Given this reality, public librarians increasingly embrace play as a cornerstone of services for tweens, teens, and young, childless adults.

This trend is a bit more wooly and disorganized than the trend covered last week on Learning and Playing at the Library during Early Childhood. When it comes to supporting play among teens and emerging adults, public librarians do not have formal curricula like Every Child Ready To Read and Stories, Songs & Stretches. Instead, the landscape is populated by myriad local experiments.

In Dubuque, Iowa, on April 7, 2018, the public library celebrated “Five years of Nerf capture the flag,” a monthly after-hours program in which adults literally play capture the flag in the stacks of the public library.

Caption: A participant in the monthly Nerf Capture the Flag for adults program offered at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, Iowa. Image courtesy The Telegraph Herald.

 

As public libraries re-open in Summer 2021, this program has started to return. In nearby Indianola, Iowa, the local radio station reports that “The Indianola Public Library Nerf Attack events are returning to the library on July 16, 2021. Nerf Attack is one of the most popular events, with kids in grades 6-12 having the run of the library.”

Three important facts help us make sense of something as seemingly bizarre as Nerf wars in the library:

1) These programs fit within the increasing identity of the public library as a community hub, offering, as a recent American Library Association reports puts it, offering free “activities and

entertainment you can’t find anywhere else in the community,” while also functioning as “a place for people in the community to gather and socialize.”

2) Public libraries are fundamentally local institutions, with nearly 90% of their funding coming from local sources. I sometimes tell my students, “If you know one public library, you know one public library.” One of the least appreciated facts about public librarianship is, as Eric Klinenberg recently pointed out in his book Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life “library staff ha[ve] more autonomy to develop new programming than I’d expected from an established public institution. Managers, it seems, assume the best of their librarians” (p. 52).

3) Given the long-standing idea that public libraries are not cool spaces for teens and emerging adults, radical thinking is needed to over-turn that stereotype. Milwaukee Public Library launched Library Loud Days focused on “changing the public libraries into lively, vibrant gathering places …. So come see what the new definition of a library is all about. And leave your inside voice at home.”

Caption: Adult Recess at the Public Library in Arlington, Virginia. Image courtesy Arlington VA Public Library.

 

As I present these facts, I often hear complaints from people who worry that the beloved libraries of their childhoods are going to be swept away by Nerf wars, rap battles, karaoke singers, and games of Twister and Quidditch.

That concern is misplaced. In all the libraries I have looked at, these types of loud play programs are typically offered sporadically, not continuously. They represent the type of playfulness that is quickly becoming the norm in public librarianship: Public librarians play with the identity of the public library, pushing on its boundaries and encouraging community members to join them in that experiment.

How can you get involved?

Want to increase access to play for tweens, teens, and emerging adults in your community? Start with the library! The best starting point is to look for individuals with titles like Teen Librarian. The national association representing Teen Librarians is the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) whose “mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.

Teen librarians have also pioneered library services for emerging adults. Typically, library services for adults in their 20s and 30s represents an extension of library services for tweens and teens.

YALSA’s website features a cornucopia of innovative resources around play and public libraries. For instance, check out this presentation on LARP at Your Library: Teaching Life Skills Through Play, presented by Shelbie Marks of Oklahoma’s Metropolitan Library System at a recent YALSA Symposium.

Spending some time perusing the YALSA website is a great way to inform yourself about how public librarians frame play as intrinsic to library services for this demographic.

You can then use that knowledge to reach out to your Teen Librarian, set up a time to talk, and see where the conversation takes you. Check out my guide on “Rules of the road: Partnering with public libraries for collective impact” to get started.

 


About the Author: Noah Lenstra, PhD, is Director of Let’s Move in Libraries and assistant professor of Library & Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Learn more about Noah at noahlenstra.com and follow him on Twitter at @NoahLenstra.

This summer we are featuring some great PLAY resources with our 2021 Summer PLAY Blog Series, starring two invited play partners as our content experts.  PLAY is important no matter what season it is…so NO SUMMER LEARNING LOSS here!  In July, Noah Lenstra, Director of Let’s Move in Libraries, will highlight public library play initiatives for several key demographics.  In August, Daniel Hatcher, Director of Community Partnerships for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, will blog on “PLAY for Healthier Communities.”


Summer PLAY Blog Series Kicks Off with Learning and Playing at the Library during Early Childhood

Summer Blog Series #1 – Libraries & PLAY
“Learning and Playing at the Library during Early Childhood”

Since 2000, public librarians across the United States have dramatically increased the number of programs they offer in support of early childhood. The Public Library Association states this new focus on Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) transforms a pre-conception people may have about library programming: This new approach started not with reading, but with play: “We start with singing, talking, reading, writing and playing and then help [parents] see the connection to later reading.”

A team of researchers led by Susan B. Neuman, Professor of Early Childhood and Literacy Education at New York University, determined that public librarians trained in this ECRR curriculum “are much more likely [than those not trained] to include music and large- and small-motor movement [in their programs]—all contributing to a fun atmosphere that encourages parents and children to play together.”

As ECRR and related training programs, such as Stories, Songs, and Stretches and Mother Goose on the Loose, sweep the country, play has become central to how public librarians support early childhood.

Play spaces at libraries: Indoors and outside

This transformation effects not only public library programs, but also public library spaces. In Nashville, Tennessee, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, public libraries now have kid-sized climbing walls, with Studio Ludo working with the Free Library of Philadelphia to create what they call a “Playbrary: A new vision of the neighborhood library.

Nashville Public Library’s Crawl Wall in the context of its interactive children’s play area.
Image courtesy Nashville Public Library.

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, public library spaces closed to the public, but public library support for play as a core component of early childhood did not end. In my research, I found public librarians increasingly utilizing outdoor spaces during Summer 2020 to continue supporting play. In “Reimagining public library programming during a pandemic” my colleague Christine D’Arpa and I found that about one quarter of U.S. small and rural public libraries created temporary outdoor play spaces and programs that could be experienced in a socially distant during the pandemic, including things like sidewalk obstacle courses and life-sized Candy Land games.

Based on this research, with public health colleagues from Baylor University and Johns Hopkins University, we presented at the 2020 virtual meeting of the Association for Rural & Small Libraries on how public librarians can and do support Play Streets initiatives, place-based interventions that involve temporarily closing streets to create safe places and free opportunities for physical activity.

The focus of public librarians on fostering outdoor play during the COVID-19 pandemic builds on a long tradition of public librarians as placemaking gurus, as documented and supported since 2000 by the Project for Public Spaces.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2015 Jenn Beideman of Healthi Kids teamed up with Patty Uttaro, the director of the Rochester [NY] Public Library, and the Strong National Museum of Play for a series of projects focused on infusing play into the built environment of this city. These efforts culminated in a Play Walk that connects the library and the museum. The soaring success of this and other library collaborations led Beideman to write for the Brookings Institution on June 10, 2021 that “resident-led advocacy in Rochester, N.Y. is creating a more playful city … [by] partnering with the Rochester Public Library system to pilot playful infrastructure and other play initiatives.”

How can you get involved?

As the above example suggests, public librarians do not do this work by themselves. Instead they are looking for help wherever they can find it! A study in Ontario led by a team of kinesiologists found that public librarians can be successfully trained to lead a Move 2 Learn program focused on play-based physical literacy skills among young children: “The results of this study demonstrated the feasibility of teaching staff without specialized training in physical education to implement Move 2 Learn.

More and more researchers, advocates, and policy makers are coming to the same conclusion: Namely that public librarians are the perfect partners in efforts to increase playful learning during early childhood.

What stands in the way of these partnerships? One factor is the rapid nature of this transformation. Although public librarians have supported playful learning for decades – think of the idea of getting out your wiggles after a storytime program — what is new is that now play is increasingly the central focus of library programs and spaces.

Many in the Play Community who have not been paying attention to this shift may need to start their involvement by educating themselves about the work public librarians now do to support early childhood. The easiest way to get started is to simply go to the website or social media of your local public library.

In preparing this blog post, out of curiosity I went to my local library’s website and clicked on the link for services for Children & Parents. This image was what I found:

Children’s librarian Pete Turner leads a play-based storytime at Greensboro Public Library.
Image courtesy: Greensboro Public Library.

 

Get started by simply seeing how your library describes its services in support of early childhood. You may find play allies you had never considered.

If you’re looking for collaborators look for librarians with titles like children’s librarian, early literacy librarian, or youth services librarian. I went to the About Us page for the Greensboro Public Library and easily found the contact information for Tanika Martin, the library’s Youth Services Coordinator. Find your community’s Tanika, set up a time to chat, and structure the conversation around the following: “Here’s what we’re trying to do. Does that sound similar to your goals? Where can we work together?”

If you’d like to learn more, check out my article on Rules of the road: Partnering with public libraries for collective impact.

In future blog posts, we’ll look at how similar transformations are taking place in public librarianship around library services for teenagers/emerging adults and for older adults. Stay tuned to learn more and to find ways to get involved!


About the Author: Noah Lenstra, PhD, is Director of Let’s Move in Libraries and assistant professor of Library & Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Learn more about Noah at noahlenstra.com and follow him on Twitter at @NoahLenstra

 

This summer we are featuring some great PLAY resources with our 2021 Summer PLAY Blog Series, starring two invited play partners as our content experts.  PLAY is important no matter what season it is…so NO SUMMER LEARNING LOSS here!  In July, Noah Lenstra, Director of Let’s Move in Libraries, will highlight public library play initiatives for several key demographics.  In August, Daniel Hatcher, Director of Community Partnerships for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, will blog on “PLAY for Healthier Communities.”


Children’s Museums Mobilize with transformative programs to ensure that PLAY continues in the Isolation of COVID-19

One year ago, most children and families were thrown into sudden isolation – from the people and places they relied on for connection. Children’s museums were immediately impacted by COVID-related shutdowns but took adversity as an opportunity to ensure access for children and families most in need of the supports that play provides.

Wednesday, June 9, 11:00pm ET/10:00am PT
“Playing through Isolation: Children’s Museums Activating through a Pandemic”

This session features three museum leaders sharing their organization’s transformative programs:

Laura Huerta Migus (moderator) is Executive Director of the Association of Children’s Museums in Arlington, Virginia, the  world’s largest professional society promoting and advocating on behalf of children’s museums and children’s museum professionals. Throughout her career, Laura has been devoted to the growth and education of children, particularly those from underserved and under-resourced communities. Under her leadership, ACM pursues innovative and effective partnerships to leverage the power of children’s museums worldwide.

Dene Mosier, Kansas Children’s Discovery Museum in Topeka – Transformed their Free to Play program that connects incarcerated mothers with their children for play-based visitation to a kit-based program.

 

Kathy Parham, The Children’s Playhouse in Boone, NC – Play Kit project partners with social service agencies and schools to delivery kits to families in very rural environments with low connectivity and in financial distress.

 

Deb Gilpin, Madison Children’s Museum in Madison, WI – Sidewalk Surprises program turned public spaces that families could access while facilities like playgrounds and museums are still closed into multicultural playscapes.

 

Learn the impact and reach of each initiative and their respective wellbeing motivations and outcomes. These exemplars are important innovations to help expand our thinking about the when and where play takes place. As we face future situations, due to climate, politics, or another public health crisis, these organizations now have important lessons to carry with them into the future to ensure children and families have access to play.


This session is part of the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play, featuring weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online through December 31, 2021.  Registered 2021 Virtual Play Conference attendees will access the session in the Attendee Hub.

This presentation will be recorded and included in our 2021 VIRTUAL Play Conference content, so don’t fret if you miss the live session!

 

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, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, park and recreation professionals, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL explores play across the lifespan, play in the workplace, play in the classroom and address universal issues of access, equity, inclusion and more.  The conference features weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online through December 31, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


Featured Play Conference Session Showcases Playful Activities to Support Whole Child Health

Attendees will leave this interactive session with simple and inexpensive strategies to support children’s physical and social-emotional health. We will emphasize inclusive activities and partnerships to help caregivers engage children in fun, language-rich learning opportunities.

Thursday, June 3
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT
“Playful Activities to
Support Whole Child Health”

This featured session will explore playful learning resources to help caregivers support the physical and social-emotional health of children. Co-facilitated by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Too Small to Fail, the session will begin with a fun, virtual and active icebreaker. After quick introductions to the organizations and the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model, Jane and Daniel will share a series of playful activities that encourage movement and learning. Pausing for a group reflection and “check-in” with attendees, we’ll spend time discussing cross-sector collaborations to help all children thrive. The presentation will conclude with simple action planning and sharing of a resource list. Q/A will occur throughout the session.


Jane Park is the Director of Too Small to Fail, the early childhood initiative of the Clinton Foundation, where she leads national partnerships with corporations, nonprofit organizations, and associations to support children and families across the country. Prior to her role with Too Small to Fail, Jane served as the Associate Director of Content in the Education, Research, and Outreach department at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street. In that role, she helped develop the whole child curriculum on which the television series is based and worked across the organization, as well as with external partners, to integrate Sesame Street’s educational content across media platforms—including print, video, online, social media, and toy products. Jane also led Sesame Street’s “Healthy Habits for Life” initiative, as well as the development of community outreach resources to support families through challenging situations such military deployment, natural disasters, and economic and food insecurity. Jane holds an M.A. in developmental psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in communications from the University of California at San Diego.

Daniel Hatcher, MPH, Director of Community Partnerships, oversees Healthier Generation’s cross-sector partnerships with key youth-serving programs and community-based organizations. A nationally renowned collaborator and trainer, Daniel manages technical assistance services and resources for out-of-school and summer programs as they work to achieve optimal healthy eating, physical activity and social emotional health for the children and caregivers they serve. Daniel has a BA in International Relations and a Master of Public Health, both from Western Kentucky University. You can follow Daniel as he speaks across the country on the topic of healthy communities via Twitter @hatchdw.


This session is part of the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play, featuring weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online through December 31, 2021.  Registered 2021 Virtual Play Conference attendees will access the session in the Attendee Hub.

This presentation will be recorded and included in our 2021 VIRTUAL Play Conference content, so don’t fret if you miss the live session!

 

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, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, park and recreation professionals, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL explores play across the lifespan, play in the workplace, play in the classroom and address universal issues of access, equity, inclusion and more.  The conference features weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online through December 31, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


#BlackGirlMagic Monday Series Available ON DEMAND through Dec 31

Exploring the shared living experiences of Black girls and women through play is vital.  The hashtag #BlackGirlMagic is used to express not only excellence and brilliance of black women but has led young girls and women to inspire one another, activate contextual awareness and grow in power together.

#BlackGirlMagic Mondays

Join host Corliss Outley, PhD, for a series of presentations and conversations that explore the magic of Black Girls play, highlighting spaces where Black girls can experience freedom, autonomy, and joy and validate their experiences in today’s society.

Each presentation was recorded live and is available ON DEMAND through December 31.  Registration is required (details below).

Monday May 3 at 12:00 noon (ET)/9:00 am (PT)
“Empowerment, Play & Black Girlhood through History”
Corliss Outley, PhD, Professor, Parks, Recreation & Tourism Mgmt
with Anitra Alexander, MS, Clemson University
From backyards to schoolyards to community parks, play has been intertwined with racial and sexual violence against Black girl’s bodies throughout American history. This discussion will provide a glimpse into the lived experiences of Black girls and the significance of play as sources of hope, healing, agency, and justice across US history. This introduction discussion serves as the jump off point for a deeper understanding of the series.

Monday, May 10 at 12:00 noon (ET)/9:00 am (PT)
“Black Girlhood, Agency & Play in the Outdoors”
Aby Sene-Harper, PhD, Assistant Professor, Parks, Recreation & Tourism Mgmt, Clemson University
The outdoors has historically been viewed as beneficial to both our mental, physical, and spiritual development. At the same time, for many Black girls and women, the outdoors have also been spaces where sexualized and racialized violence was heaped upon their womanhood to enact and enforce a white supremacist social order. Yet, through it all Black girls and women have also reclaimed outdoor spaces to conjure up innovative Black diasporic cultural practices of resistance, survival and self-determination. This presentation will discuss how PLAY in the outdoors for Black girls can be rooted in this long legacy of cultural of resistance and self-determination.

Monday, May 17 at 12:00 noon (ET)/9:00 am (PT)
“Raising Strong Daughters: The Impact of Daughter-Father Relationships in Play”
Daphne Harris, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Educational Psychology, University of North Texas
Given the vital role of Black fathers in the lives of Black girls, this talk will interrogate the daughter-father relationship in play and how it is used as a mechanism for bonding, socialization, and empowerment. Special attention will be given to Black fathers’ conceptualization of play and shared activities and how they use this time to create space for Black girls to freely explore and make sense of the world around them.

Monday, June 7 at 12:00 noon (ET)/9:00 am (PT)
“Afro-centric Dance & Intergenerational Play”
Sharon McKenzie, PhD, Asst. Professor, Recreation Therapy & Gerontology, Kean University
Historically in the African Diaspora, dance has played an intricate role in the cultural nuances and expressions of its people. From a cultural lens, general movements, ritualistic movements, and dance performances have been a catalyst for intergenerational exchange particularly between young girls and mature women. We will facilitate a discourse of the multiple realms and vital roles of dance in the lives of young girls and women.

Monday, June 14 at 12:00 noon (ET)/9:00 am (PT)
“Black Girlhood and Play: Where do we go from here?”
Aishia Brown, PhD, Asst Professor, School of Public Health & Information Sciences, University of Louisville
Play spaces and activities have been recognized for their significance in combating oppression by serving as spaces for resistance as well as healing for Black girls and women. These issues are not just historical but contemporary and relevant as illustrated in the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic. Representing the last discussion in the series, this workshop concludes with an overview of the role race, gender, and age play in the lived experiences of Black girls within play spaces. It will finalize by presenting strategies in order to better serve this population through the development of new policies and practices that are viewed as vital to the future of the field of play.


#BlackGirlMagic Mondays is part of the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play, featuring dozens of recorded headliners, workshops, educational and research presentations – available ON DEMAND through December 31, 2021.

Register for the full Virtual Play Conference or choose the #BlackGirlMagic Mondays ONLY option.

 

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, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, park and recreation professionals, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL explores play across the lifespan, play in the workplace, play in the classroom and address universal issues of access, equity, inclusion and more.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


April 27 #WePlayChat: Making Space for Play in Community

Join us on Twitter Tuesday, April 27 at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT for the next instalment of our monthly #WePlayChat.  We are honoured to welcome Shimira Williams from The Beauty of S.T.E.M to the main stage to discuss the topic, “Making Space for Play in Community”.

Shimira Williams is an authentic change agent that builds digital citizens through play and productivity. She integrates digital media literacy, tools, and learning materials to harness the power of technology, extending learning opportunities, and retooling business operations in early learning environments. ​Her vision for technology seeks to improve people’s ability to communicate and collaborate and to allow people to focus on the human-to-human connection.

Here are the questions we will be covering during this #WePlayChat:

Q1. How can play help children and the grown-up in their life build trust for long-lasting relationships?

Q2. What are ways play helps build a trusting relationship amongst peers (in school and at work)?

Q3. Who do you play with in your own community and why?

Q4. Where and when do you make time for play in your community? 

Want to join the global conversation around the value of play!?  When it is time for the chat, login to Twitter, and search for the hashtag #WePlayChat and follow along on the “Latest” tab.  Feel free to like, reply, and retweet. Just be sure to include the hashtag #WePlayChat so your input is part of the feed!
________________________________________________________________________

#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the field of play. Launched in 2016, it is the longest-running monthly play-based chat in the world. Our monthly chats constantly land in the top 10% of all Twitter chats happening globally.

Our #WePlayChat participants come from 33 countries, spanning multiple continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers, and experts from across the globe.


Professors at Play: Bringing Fun and Joy into Higher Education

How does play fit within the higher education mission? And what prevents academia from realizing its benefits?

“Professors at Play: Bringing Fun and Joy into Higher Education”
with Lisa K. Forbes & David Thomas
Friday, April 23
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT

While play and elementary education have a long and positive history, post-secondary education has largely remained an ivory tower of serious contemplation and humorless work.

The Professors at Play community represents a movement in post-secondary instruction to encourage the utilization of play in teaching and learning.

This session covers student perceptions and outcomes, faculty approaches and barriers to play, a review of current research and a select inventory of playful approaches at various levels of scale–from single activities through whole course play. This session will sketch out the current landscape of play across higher ed and conclude with possible future directions and a call to action for participants to enact change.


Lisa K. Forbes, PhD, is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Counseling Program at the University of Colorado Denver. Lisa is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is training to become a Play Therapist. Lisa’s research centers around intensive mothering practices, gender conformity, and mental health and…you guessed it, play and fun in teaching and learning!

David Thomas PhD, is the Executive Director of Online Programs at the University of Denver and Assistant Professor Attendant in the Department of Architecture at the University of Colorado Denver. David’s research centers around fun, fun objects (like buildings!) and the meaning of play.


This session is part of the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play, featuring weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online through June 30, 2021.  Registered 2021 Virtual Play Conference attendees will access the session in the Attendee Hub.

This presentation will be recorded and included in our 2021 VIRTUAL Play Conference content, so don’t fret if you miss the live session!

 

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, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, park and recreation professionals, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL explores play across the lifespan, play in the workplace, play in the classroom and address universal issues of access, equity, inclusion and more.  The conference features weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online from April 1 through June 30, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


Explore “Play, Design and Mental Health” with Play Futurist Yesim Kunter

In a world of commercial toys, how can we design resources that support the mental wellness and health of children?

“Play, Design and Mental Health”
with play futurist Yesim Kunter
Tues, April 13, 11:30am EDT/8:30am PDT

There is a growing need of resources that are playfully dedicated to the wellbeing of children. There is no question that there is a huge decline in children’s mental health. The risks are huge but resources are limited.

By playing we can learn to adapt and gain insights on how we can navigate in certain situations. Therefore it is crucial to be able to create the resources that children can experiment and learn through.

In order to design products that aim to deliver these insights means collaborating with diverse group of experts’ in their fields, understanding children’s inner worlds and translating into a design language.

For example if you are working on a product that will help children to be able to sleep well, you have to understand the literature of sleep, then the cultural differences and what type of colors, forms, textures, sound will be suitable.  Designing resources for Mental Health means understanding the literature and translating into the right design language for that given culture.

In this featured session, Yesim Kunter explores important design principles and shares relevant case studies.


Yesim Kunter is a recognized play expert and a creative strategist, understanding behavior of people to create new experiences and define new opportunities.

Yesim is an independent consultant; developing play experiences for various customers for product development, applying Play Philosophy to spaces, environments, communities, culture creation as well as market research with future scoping. She had been training organizations with diverse backgrounds from kids to professionals for leveraging Creativity and Innovation through Play Workshops.

Yesim worked at leading Industry for 12 years in various countries; such as Toys R Us, Lego and Hasbro. Trained as a toy designer and her passion to unravel the future to identify and define new experiences transformed her carrier to become a play-futurist.

Yesim was brought up in Turkey and lived in New York, Denmark, Billund and now in London, which gave her a multi-cultural perspective that helps her to become a keen observer in human behavior.


This session is part of the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play, featuring weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online through June 30, 2021.  Registered 2021 Virtual Play Conference attendees will access the session in the Attendee Hub.

This presentation will be recorded and included in our 2021 VIRTUAL Play Conference content, so don’t fret if you miss the live session!

 

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, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, park and recreation professionals, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL explores play across the lifespan, play in the workplace, play in the classroom and address universal issues of access, equity, inclusion and more.  The conference features weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online from April 1 through June 30, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


Power PLAYer Panel Kicks Off
2021 VIRTUAL Play Conference

Power PLAYer Panel:
PLAY IS SURVIVAL

Available ON DEMAND through June 30

(Registered conference attendees can access the recording through session through our conference attendee hub.)

Thought leaders and game changers come together for our kickoff keynote session – the“Power PLAYer Panel,” tackling the 2021 conference theme of “PLAY IS SURVIVAL,” particularly as it relates to issues of access, equity and inclusion.  This is a discussion NOT to be missed!

Laura Huerta Migus (moderator) is the Executive Director of the Association of Children’s Museums in Arlington, Virginia, the world’s largest professional society promoting and advocating on behalf of children’s museums and children’s museum professionals. Throughout her career, Laura has been devoted to the growth and education of children, particularly those from underserved and under-resourced communities. Under her leadership, ACM pursues innovative and effective partnerships to leverage the power of children’s museums worldwide.

In 2018, Laura was named as an Ascend Fellow of the Aspen Institute, and in 2016 she was recognized as a Champion of Change for Summer Opportunity by the White House. She is a noted speaker and author on topics of equity and audience-focused museum practice for institutions including the Board of Science Education of the National Academies of Sciences, the U.S. Play Coalition, and various university texts. Previously, she served as the Director of Professional Development and Equity Initiatives at the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Inc. and also held positions at the National Multicultural Institute and the National Association for Bilingual Education. She earned a B.A. in Spanish from Texas A&M University and an M.S. in Organization Development and Leadership from Saint Joseph’s University.


Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!  In early 2021, Lysa M. Ratliff became the newest CEO of KABOOM!, the national non-profit that works to end playspace inequity. For good. Throughout her career, Ratliff has served as a champion for kids and their resilience, leading efforts to connect partners and make change for communities and kids across the country, and around the world. She was the Vice President of Partnership Development at KABOOM!, has held senior leadership roles at Habitat for Humanity International, Save the Children, and spent more than a decade in international marketing communications at several large corporations. Lysa has led both public and private fundraising teams, cause marketing and communications campaigns with large global corporations. When not spending time with her own kids and husband, Lysa enjoys all things home, with most of her playtime being spent in the garden growing organic fruits and vegetables.


Dr. Christine Sims, Associate Professor of Educational Linguistics/ American Indian Education at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.  Dr. Sims specializes in indigenous language revitalization and maintenance issues, provides technical assistance to indigenous nations in language program planning, and trains American Indian language teachers. She established the American Indian Language Policy Research and Teacher Training Center at UNM in 2008. The Center engages in public advocacy and training support to Indigenous language maintenance and revitalization initiatives in New Mexico and has sponsored several international language symposia with funding support from the National Science Foundation. The Center’s most recent research projects include a study of language immersion programs in Bureau of Indian Affairs schools in New Mexico, a training and materials development support project for New Mexico Native language teachers working with Native children, ages of 0-8, funded by the W.K. Kellogg and McCune Foundations.

Dr. Sims serves on the National Advisory Council for American Indian/Alaska Native Head Start Programs and is a member of the Tribal Early Childhood Research Center Steering Committee based at UC Denver. She is also active in the New Mexico Coalition for the Majority, an advocacy organization supporting cultural and linguistic diversity in education.

Dr. Sims is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Acoma and resides with her family on the Acoma Pueblo reservation in northwest New Mexico.


This kickoff keynote presentation was recorded live on zoom and is included in our 2021 VIRTUAL Play Conference content available through June 30.  Find the replay here.

 

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, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, park and recreation professionals, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL explores play across the lifespan, play in the workplace, play in the classroom and address universal issues of access, equity, inclusion and more.  The conference features weekly live headliners and networking events, dozens of recorded educational and research presentations and much more – all online from April 1 through June 30, 2021.  We hope you will engage with us virtually in the interest of public health, wellness, safety and education!!!


The ABCs of the 2021 Virtual Play Conference Educational Sessions and Research Symposium

The full detailed schedule is coming soon…but until then, below is an alphabetical list of the MORE THAN 60 recorded Educational Sessions and Research Symposium Sessions that will be core content for the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL, available online from April 1 through June 30.

As we prepare for our second online Play Conference, there is a renewed intensity to connect play advocates, educate our national and global community, support play research and publications, and truly fulfill our mission to promote the VALUE of play throughout life. We continue to incorporate phenomenal speakers and resources with unique opportunities for learning through play!

       

 

  • A Play-Based Literacy Program for The Professional Development of Reception Year Teachers
  • A Prescription for Play in Education
  • Access for All: Providing Equitable Hands-On Learning Experiences in A Digital World
  • All Ages, All Abilities, All the Time
  • Beyond Candyland: Learning Through Making Board Games
  • Big Body Play Powers A Child’s Learning Trajectory
  • Capture the Flag: How Traditionally Marginalized Residents Reclaim Urban Space Through Play
  • Circus Is an International Language
  • Crazy Games Workshop Explores Using Low Cost Materials Outside Normal Usage to Create Fun Learning
  • Designing Everyday Spaces for Children
  • Designing Hybrid Outdoor Play and Learning Spaces for All Ages
  • Eduspeak And Play: Surviving the Wolf at The Door While Keeping Play Alive & Well in Your Classroom
  • Equity and Play: Surviving and Thriving
  • Future of Play: Technology Integration
  • Healthy Communities, Parks and Splashpads
  • Hobby Horses—A Hobby, Sport or Pure Play? Feminine Debates on A Contemporary Plaything
  • Inclusive Playground Design:  A Case Study of Three New England Playgrounds
  • Intergenerational Play Within the Workplace: A Powerful Mechanism for Informal Learning
  • Legacy of Laughter; A Grandparent Playbook
  • Let’s Start With Play. Why Play in The Emergency Department Can Be Our Best Tool for Patients
  • Making Connections: People, Places, And Physical Activity
  • More to Say After Outdoor Play: Bookmaking and Storytelling with Children
  • No, They’re Not Too Old to Play. Bringing Loose Parts Play to South Florida Middle Schoolers.
  • Nonprofit, Let’s Play America, Hangs on During the Pandemic with Virtual Play Days & Handbooks
  • Paddle, Pivot, Pedal, Prance and Most of All…PLAY!
  • Parent LAB PLAY DAY Series
  • Parents’ Perceptions of Play Throughout the Pandemic and In the Social Justice Movement
  • Performative Play for The Project Based Learning Classroom
  • Play and Expressive Therapy Interventions for Enhancing Emotion Regulation
  • Play as Culturally Sustainable Family Engagement
  • Play Behavior of Children from an Isolated Area in Brazil: Body and Space as Cultural Expression
  • Play Frisco 2.0
  • Play Like Our World Depends on It: Using Playfulness to Engage Others in The Climate Emergency
  • Play on The Go: Tips for Developing and Using Prop Boxes
  • Play Programming During the Pandemic…. What Can We Learn?
  • Play, Politics, & Policy: Building a State-Wide Movement for Recess
  • Playground Design for School Communities – Moving Towards a Better Way
  • Playing in a Pandemic: Lessons from Virtual and Traditional Instruction in Early Elementary School
  • Pretend Play as a Tool for Development During Virtual Learning of Young Children
  • Prototyping: Play Applied
  • Ready Player One: Harnessing the Power of Activity and Fun Using A Digital Medium
  • Recess and Play Before and During the Covid-19 Pandemic
  • Reconsidering Solitary Play: Understanding Self, Place, and Nature
  • Reducing the Negative Impacts of Trauma Through Outdoor Play
  • Removing Invisible Barriers: A Design Call to Action from Families of Those with Differing Abilities
  • Sacred Play: An Ancient Contribution to Contemporary Play Theory
  • Shifting Play from Survival to Thrivival
  • Social Togetherness in a Time of Social Distancing
  • Soulful Play
  • Sustainability of Self
  • Teaching Off Trail
  • The Benefits and Uses of Collaborative Competition in the Classroom
  • The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Young Children’s Play
  • The Effects of a Multi Recess Intervention on Body Composition in Elementary School Children
  • The Importance of Failure in Play
  • The Push Play Project
  • The Rubber Shark Principle: How Play Is Bridging Our Relationship with Disability Inclusion
  • The Value of Adult Play Is All in the Design
  • Those Summer Days: Exploring Extreme Heat’s Impact on Children’s Outdoor Play and Physical Activity
  • Toy Activism Through Teddybears: Promoting Playful Resilience and Ludounity In Pandemic Times
  • Ways to Play the Virtual Way
  • Wordplay: How Silly Jokes, Nonsense Rhymes, and Secret Languages Thrive in Unstructured Play

 

 

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 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL includes keynote and featured speakers, round tables on critical issues and trends, research symposium for academics, educational sessions for practitioners, action and research grant opportunities, PLAYtalks and PLAYinstitutes, networking, EPIC play breaks and more.