This annual conference brings together leading 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 country.

“PLAY FOR LIFE” will explore play across the lifespan and address universal issues of health, education, access, equity, inclusion, design and more.

The three-day event includes keynote and featured speakers, PLAYtalks, PLAYinstitutes, research symposium, educational sessions, roundtables, grant opportunities, networking, and opportunities for play.  Read on to learn about conference speakers, themes, CEUs and logistical details.

Play Pioneers

Stuart Brown & Peter Gray

Stuart Brown, MD, our very first keynote speaker (2009) and Peter Gray, PhD,
our first ever PLAYtalk presenter (2016) return to the conference main stage to tackle our theme of “PLAY FOR LIFE,” reflect on the last decade of the play movement, and give insights into its next decade.  Together on stage for the first time ever!  This session is NOT to be missed!

 

Stuart Brown, MD

Trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry and clinical research, Dr. Stuart Brown first recognized the importance of play by discovering its absence in the life stories of murders and felony drunken drivers. He is founder and president of the National Institute for Play. Dr. Brown’s book: Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul has been translated into twelve languages.

Peter Gray, PhD

Dr. Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College. His recent research focuses on the role 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 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). He also authors a regular blog called “Freedom to Learn,” for Psychology Today magazine.

PLAYtalks

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.

PLAYinstitutes

PLAYinstitutes are 3-hour topic-specific trainings that take place in the morning of Sunday, March 31.  Details  to come.

Featured Speakers

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.

PLAY Workshops are hour-long, hands-on, interactive PLAY learning sessions.  Workshop lineup TBA.

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

Session Themes

All our sessions will be classified into the following themes to help attendees find the sessions that most interest them:

Education & Play – Play is a vital part of the learning equation, both in and out of the classroom. The faces of those learning while at play are some of the most engaging! Consider play as a vehicle for learning through both traditional and nontraditional settings including schools, camps, afterschool programs, museums, zoos, aquariums, parks & recreation departments, faith-based spaces, and more.

Health, Recreation & Play – Play is a building block for healthy living. Examine health and physical activity trends related to play, healthy benefits of play, and the intersection of health and recreation to insure a healthy face of play.

Nature Based & Outdoor Play – The faces of play are often wet, muddy, and sun-glistened from hours spent outdoors. Focus on play in nearby and far away nature–backyards, parks, creeks, lakes, trails, wetlands, and beyond.

Accessible & Inclusive Play – Play should be accessible, available, and open to all. Advance the field for play for all abilities, all shapes, all sizes, all colors.

Multi/Intergenerational & Adults at Play – Promoting play throughout life is our mission. Explore how adults (college-aged to retirees) play and how adults share and benefit from play with children.

Designing for Play – Landscape architects, architects, designers, city planners, and civic groups are invaluable experts, practitioners and resources for PLAY. These sessions will be submitted for LACES and AIA CEU approval.

Emerging Trends in Play – Play is changing! The Play movement is growing! Explore the latest in play- technology, social media, politics, policies, and more.

International/Global Play – Play looks very different around the world. Share play practices, history, and culture from countries across the globe.

Nuts & Bolts – From play basics to play essentials. Share tips, trainings, techniques and tools for PLAY.

 

Continuing Education Units

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.