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Clemson conference attracts experts concerned about children's 'play deficit'

CLEMSON, S.C. More than 200 experts will gather at Clemson University's Madren Conference Center Feb. 6-9 to explore the value of play, and they already agree on one thing: Children don't get outside enough.

The Conference on the Value of Play is attracting health professionals, educators, parents and park and recreation practitioners. It follows last year's Summit on the Value of Play, which led to the creation of the US Play Coalition.

"This year we're attracting a broad spectrum of people who share concerns about the play deficit in our children," said Fran Mainella, a visiting scholar at Clemson University who co-chairs the US Play Coalition. "This conference provides a venue for people and organizations to learn from each other and coordinate efforts to bring back play in the lives of all people. And not just children."

The value Mainella places on play has been shaped by a lifetime in park management, including her tenure as the 16th director of the National Park Service, when she became champion of a movement she calls No Child Left Inside.

"We believe play is a basic human need and the foundation of strong intellectual, physical and emotional development," Mainella said. "Play is essential to a person reaching his or her full potential."

The conference will feature professor emeritus Joe Frost of the University of Texas at Austin. Frost was awarded the Association of Children's Museums Great Friend to Kids Award in 2008. He is an internationally known expert and lecturer on child development issues, especially those issues related to play and playgrounds. He directs a three-decades-running University of Texas research program on children's play and play environments.

Conference speakers will cover topics such as how to recapture recess and how the medical profession views play. Education sessions will range from female perspectives on hunting to advocating for play on the local level to inspiring play spaces for everyone.


Contact: Fran Mainella
Clemson University

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