Children at Play Conference Kicks Off Regional Initiative

By Amy Joseph Landon

Portland Plays - stump constructionDid you know that mud pies, straw forts, and climbing trees not only make kids healthier but also improve academic performance?  Self-directed nature-based free play is essential to fostering creativity, imagination and innovation, yet these days, kids spend too much time indoors in front of a screen instead of playing outside.

Bernheim Forest wants to help change that through our Children at Play Initiative made possible by a grant from PNC Bank.

On Friday, October 4 and Saturday, October 5, we are launching this effort at our inaugural Children at Play Conference.  Parents, teachers, childcare providers, landscape architects, and anyone with an interest in how play promotes the healthy development of children are invited to attend.

The conference will feature two prominent experts in this field, Morgan Leichter-Saxby and Rusty Keeler.  Keeler and Leichter-Saxby, along with local play leaders, will share their insights on the first day of the conference.  That same day attendees will participate in small group brainstorming to build a shared vision for this initiative.  The brainstorming will also help shape the parameters of mini-grants for which Bernheim will be seeking proposals following the conference.

Saturday, October 5, is dubbed the Day of Play.  Attendees will spend the day at Bernheim’s Children’s Play Garden where they will take part in guided play activities, curriculum based play, the installation of outdoor play structures and more.  Saturday is open to families with children.

Cost to attend is based on a sliding scale that depends upon whether attendees participate in one or both days and their means to pay.  No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.

Help us become a community that champions free play and creates places and opportunities for children to benefit from all it has to offer.  For more information on the initiative click here.


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