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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
Often times our days are filled with busy calendars. Our routines and commitments keep us so busy that we forget what is actually important. Play is often overlooked and replaced by other “productive” habits which are usually outcome driven.
However, if you are reading this you probably are already bought into the idea that play can invigorate your day, enrich your week, and if done frequently can change your life for the better. In a book I just read called The Power of Habit, the author describes this well. He claims that, “Our lives are nothing more than a series of habits”. He is right. Our lives are really just a series of habits and decisions we choose to create and sustain. When we move or change jobs we often replace old habits with new ones. If this is true, it is also true that we need to be mindful in incorporating play into our daily lives as we become adults of habits. Our habits become more engrained as we age and become harder to change. However, if you are going to increase the prevalence of play in your life you need to start slowly placing it into your life by replacing existing habits that are tightly established. This intentional change can happen to allow you to have time in your schedule dedicated to “Play.”
Whatever that form of play looks like is totally up to you! You could incorporate any form of play you want ONCE you have made a habit of allowing time for it to happen each day.
I know that in my own life I have to be very intentional about including play into my daily routine. For me, working out is a form of active play! I literally think of the gym as a giant playground. If you were to see me in a gym working out you would totally see that I am clearly playing and enjoying the process more than the outcome.
I have also made a conscious effort to set aside 15-20 min per day just for unstructured play time. That could be for walking in the park, writing poetry (creative play) or singing when I am cooking a nice meal.. Some days I find it challenging to include play into my schedule but once I know I have that 15-20 min I choose to make the most of it!
The important thing to remember from this blog is that you are totally in control of including play in your daily routines, and you are fully capable of including play in your lifelong habits. It is up to you. I choose to enjoy and enriching life filled with play each day. Will you choose playful habits?
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.
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”, 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.
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!”
This month our executive director, Stephanie Garst, has had a few opportunities to share the importance of play with teens.
As a guest for the Clemson University Summer Scholars program on “Environmental Sustainability through Parks and Recreation,” Stephanie spent the morning with high schoolers from South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and even New York. They trekked to two local parks near campus to learn about the importance of play as a valuable and necessary part of a healthy and productive life, including its role in obesity prevention, education, and promoting connections with the environment. Tying in parks as areas for play, the students played childhood games and explored the playground, reflected on their respective childhood play experiences, worked with each other to invent and play new games, and discussed why PLAY is important in their lives.
Stephanie also welcomed over 100 South Carolina 4H leaders to Clemson University for their 2015 State Congress. She led them in a rousing version of Boom Chicka Boom, facilitated this epic game of RoShamBo Rock Star and challenged them to bring PLAY into the work they do for 4H.
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.
Record registration, record snow, record memories!
Neither an ice storm nor a lack of power kept the 2015 Conference on the Value of Play from its laser-focus on promoting the importance of play in everyday life! The Feb. 15-18 conference, which drew play researchers and advocates from across the world, featured the unveiling of research touting recess as an essential activity that enhances children’s health, development and capacity to learn, as well as the debut of Play Pulse, a quarterly publication on play research, information and advocacy. ADD/HD expert Kevin Ross Emery and renowned psychology author Peter Gray served as keynote speakers, and the conference also included a variety of lectures, sessions and panel discussions as well as a luncheon address by Clemson First Lady Beth Clements.