Today’s society is suffering from a serious lack of play. Over the past few decades, outside play has been replaced by more sedentary activities, such as playing video games or watching television. As a result, even though the ability to play is innate in children, they are growing up without benefiting from regular, healthy, outdoor play, a deficiency that extends into their lives as adults. The US Play Coalition is hoping to change that.
“For some reason, many people see play as a frivolous activity,” says Fran Mainella, Co-Chair of the US Play Coalition. “The facts are actually the opposite. Play is a necessary part of an active, healthy and happy life.”
The US Play Coalition, housed at Clemson University, is working to bring play back into the lives of people of all ages. Since its beginnings in 2009, the Coalition has grown to more than 1,100 members from across North America and the globe. It’s free to become a member. All you need to do is make a commitment to helping change the current perception of the value of play, and to ensure it is recognized as a valuable part of a healthy and productive life.
Members’ efforts are starting to make a difference, with a great deal of media interest and enthusiasm growing about the value of play.
“This summer alone, we saw a feature article in Delta Airline’s July issue of Sky Magazine and I’ve made radio appearances on CBS Radio and KBBI in South Central Alaska,” continued Mainella. “Over the past year, we’ve begin to see the interest and momentum build, and we’re hoping this increased attention will help build awareness about the importance of play for people of all ages. “
The Coalition also hosts an annual conference where leaders in the play field are able to share ideas and network with one another. The 2013 Conference on the Value of Play: Taking Action, will be held at Clemson University in South Carolina on February 17-20, 2013.
“Anyone is able to go to the conference,” said Mainella. “If you are interested in learning more about the value of play, and how to incorporate it into your life, you need to be involved.”
The conference will help share information about how play is beneficial for people regardless of age. There will be discussions about play, support of play research, and new developments in the field, which are critical to building a play movement and increasing awareness of the importance of play in our every day lives. Last year, grants were awarded to promising researchers and the Coalition hopes to do so again to further support the growth of a vibrant play research community.
“Our goal is to foster the development of a vibrant and active community of people from a range of disciplines – educators, parents, health professionals, landscape architects, playground designers, parks and recreation experts, and engaged citizens from across the country and the globe – and encourage them to share the benefits of play,” said Mainella. “If we can all work together to influence change, we can make a difference in the quality of life for millions of people across the globe.”
Online registration to the conference is now available. If you’re a US Play Coalition member and you register early, you can save on your fees. Once you’ve completed your registration, you can also reserve your room at the James F. Martin Inn for only $99 per night, including a continental breakfast each morning (price does not include tax).
For more information about becoming a member of the US Play Coalition, or registering for the Conference on the Value of Play, check out the Coalition website at usplaycoalition.clemson.edu or email Fran Mainella at firstname.lastname@example.org.