According to experts, play is becoming less of our lifestyle and that is not healthy.
A three-day conference is underway at Clemson University that is dedicated to the value of play: the unstructured, childlike activities that seem to cease when people get older.
Fran Mainella, the former head of the U.S. Parks Service under President George W. Bush, is now a visiting scholar at Clemson and heads the US Play Coalition. She says today, even children are not being given enough time for recess and play. She says one of the reasons is the “No Child Left Behind Policy” enacted by the administration she worked under.
“We were pushing so hard academically to do better…and as a result sometimes being outdoors for recess or play became possibly a bad word because it was looked at as it’s not academic,” says Mainella. “But the research shows is that I will succeed better as a student or as an adult and be more successful in my life if I have play in my life because it allow me stress relief and allows me to interact with others and allows me to ‘play well with others’ and that is an important part in our lives.”
The conference is a three-day summit for about 250 researchers, doctors, educators, parents, architects and parks professionals to work together –and of course, try out some playful ideas. Participants come from as fas away as China.
The coalition itself has grown to about 1,200 members, with Clemson University’s Parks and Recreation department being one of the top schools in this area.
AUDIO: Excerpt from Mainella interview about conference on play (3:25)