2018 Conference on the Value of Play:
The Many Faces of Play, April 8-11, 2018

Power PLAYer Panel

Tackling “The Many Faces of Play” with industry leaders from a variety of perspectives, this is a discussion NOT to be missed!

Panelists include:

  • Moderator: Fran Mainella – Co-Chair, US Play Coalition & Former National Park Service Director
  • Sherrill York, Executive Director of the National Center on Accessibility
  • Laura Huerta Migus, Executive Director of the Association of Children’s Museums
  • Erwin Tan, MD – Director Thought Leadership – Health at AARP

Learn more…

Steve Gross
Chief Playmaker and Founder
The Life is Good Kids Foundation 

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. 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.

Learn more…

The Implications of Race on Play for Youth of Color

There’s a freedom that’s attached to play as youth explore the world around them. For youth of color however, these benefits are not always readily available.  This will be a thought-provoking interactive session designed to equip attendees to serve our increasingly diverse communities.

  • Myron Floyd, Ph.D., NC State University
  • Corliss Outley, Ph.D., Texas A&M University
  • Rasul Mowatt, Ph.D., Indiana University Bloomington
  • Panel Moderator: Harrison Pinckney, Ph.D.,  Clemson University

Learn more…


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

Anthony DeBenedet, MD

DeBenedet is a practicing physician and behavioral-science enthusiast. 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.

For his PLAYtalk, DeBenedet will discuss “Playful Intelligence,” exploring how playfulness impacts everyday life in profound and unexpected ways.

Learn more…

Anya Kamenetz is the lead digital education correspondent for NPR (NPR.org/ed). She is the author of several books about learning and the future. Her latest book is The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media And Real Life, the first, essential, don’t-panic guide to kids, parents, and screens.

Kamenetz’s PLAYtalk is entitled, “From FaceTime to PlayTime: How Screens Can Fit into a Playful World.”

Learn more…


PLAYinstitutes are 3-hour topic-specific trainings that take place on Sunday, April 8 from 11:00am-2:30pm (includes a 30 minutes break).  These pre-conference PLAYinstitutes are available to conference attendees as an add-on option. Cost is just $25 for the institute of your choice. Pre-registration is required.  Click on each of the titles below to learn more.

Utilizing Play: Creating the Balance between Teaching and Learning 

A Playful Pedagogy: Introduction to Playwork 

Effective Playground Protective Surfacing: The Key Element for Risk Assessment under the new ASTM F1487 

Featured Speakers

  • Jill Moore, Paralympian “Play on Player: Overcoming Disability with Play”

  • Joan Almon, Alliance for Childhood
    “The Urgent Need for Play-Based Experiential Learning in Preschool and Kindergarten”

  • Erwin Tan, MD, AARP
    “Play as Motivation for Health – A Social Marketing Analysis”

  • Anthony DeBenedet, MD – “The Art of Roughhousing”

  • Olga Jarrett, Professor Emerita, Georgia Southern University
    “The Politics of Recess”

  • Joe Crookham, President, Musco Lighting Inc.,
    “Lighting Play Environments for Today & the Future”

  • Phil Gaines, State Park Director, South Carolina State Parks
    “When Being an ‘Outsider’ is a Good Thing!”

  • Darryl Edwards, Author and Founder of the Primal Play Method
    “Primal Play Playshop – An Introduction to the Primal Play Method”

  • Jim Poole, MD, FAAP
    “Increasing ADHD Performance Utilizing Play, Technology, and Approach to Learning”

  • Christine Alden, Program Director, The Lawson Foundation
    “Exploring a Multi-Sector Approach to Play”

  • Stuart Brown, MD
    “How Play Shapes Our Lives, Throughout our Life”

  • Michael Suk, MD JD MPH MBA FACS
    “The Many Faces of Play – Healthcare Edition”

Play Research, Educational & Poster Sessions

The Play Research Symposium provides opportunities for a scholarly exchange surrounding play. Sessions will include several 15 minute presentations grouped by theme with a 15 minute Q&A to follow the series.

Educational Sessions are opportunities to share and discover innovative play strategies and play research. These 50-minute sessions are more interactive and aimed at practitioners.

Poster Presentations will display from Sunday through the Tuesday closing banquet.  Poster presenters will accompany their posters during the pre-banquet reception on Tuesday evening.

Check out a speaker overview for the conference.

PLAY Workshops

PLAY Workshops are hour-long, hands-on, interactive PLAY learning sessions that take place at 4:15pm on Monday of the conference.

Here is the workshop lineup:

Primal Play Playshop – An Introduction to the Primal Play Method – Darryl Edwards

Playing from Scratch – Joyce Hemphill

Get PLAYFUL with DANCE – Matt Leung

Improv Parenting: Using Improv to Parent Playfully and Mindfully – Keren Gudeman

Tips, Tools, and Tales from the Field: Fostering All-Out, Joyful Play in Adults – Dalton Gray


ALSO! On Tuesday afternoon we will have an International Play Fair, exploring games and toys from around the globe!

Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

Clemson University awards CEUs for your participation in sessions at The Conference on the Value of Play. All keynotes, featured, research and educational sessions are 50 minutes in length.  Participants can be awarded .05 CEUs for each of these sessions attended. Institutes are another CEU opportunity.  LA CES and AIA Learning Units are pending for select sessions within the “Landscape Architecture, Architecture & Design” track.  Additional paperwork will be required.

2018 Event Schedule

  • Schedule at a Glance

  • Play Conference Printed Progam