On March 1, 2013, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum took a major leap. Maybe you heard about it or maybe you were there for our very first Symposium on Play.
This symposium was the first step in our goal to lead West Michigan in becoming an even more playful community. By collaborating with Grand Valley State University, Aquinas College, Spectrum Health and others, we presented a day of internationally respected speakers on the benefits of play to all of us. Almost 200 attended.took a major leap. Maybe you heard about it or maybe you were there for our very first Symposium on Play.
Play benefits the cognitive, social emotional development of children. You’ve read that here in this blog before. But, did you know that play develops trust, teamwork and improves communication within business organizations, according to Mary Jane Pories, CEO of Fishladder, Inc. Play speed recovery, reduces the need for pain medication, and reduces fear, says Rhys VanderMark, Child Life Specialist at Helen DeVos Hospital. Play is how young children learn, assured Dr. Nkechy Ezeh from Aquinas College. Dr. John Kilbourne and Elizabeth Kilbourne (GVSU) showed us the deeper value of play in all of our lives. Chief Belk and Kevin Clark presented how play is even a factor in reducing crime and helping offenders find a better way in life. Marcie Brogan, from Brogan and Partners in Detroit, showed how play can, and should be a part of every work day.
The highlight of the day was the keynote address from Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO of KaBoom!, and author of the best selling book, “Kaboom! One man’s effort to save play”. Darell has a remarkable live story, growing up in a group home in Chicago with his seven brothers and sisters. A tragedy he read about in which two children died because they had no place to play, inspired Darell to create a non-profit company which has since created over 2,300 playgrounds in this country. He told us that 52% of schools in this country no longer offer recess, and how this trend is both short sighted and damaging to our students. He made a compelling case for play, exploring brain science to education to life changing stories of transformation.
Darell is the country’s foremost authority on the importance of play. We were honored to have his message at our Symposium on Play. Darell shared a study with us which found children laugh in excess of 100 times a day. Adults average 20. He challenged us all to bring back the child in our lives.
The conversation will not end here, it is just starting. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum will lead the way. Share your efforts to make West Michigan more playful with us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Use #PlayGR to further the conversation.
Written by Robert Dean, Executive Director, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum