The Importance of Play

The Grand Rapids Children's Museum (GRCM), in partnership with Grand Valley State University and Aquinas College, is hosting a Symposium on Play on Friday, March 1 at GVSU's Eberhard Center. 

Joe Serwach, managing director of Organik Marketing, the PR firm handling the Symposium, says that research has shown the value of good, old-fashioned play. Not computer or video games, but going outside and using the imagination. 

"Kids today have a lot of video games and they play inside a lot," Serwach says. "(Today), we have serious concerns about whether its safe for kids to be outside. Far more kids play in organized sports now (than) before. But a lot of research shows that free play, where you don't have a toy, builds creativity, imagination, team building skills, and all sorts of other benefits."

The Children's Museum recognizes the need for "free play" and hopes this one-day symposium can address the importance of play not just for children, but for adults as well. 

"You can't just sit at a computer screen for eight hours without it having a detrimental effect," Serwach says. "You need to be able to think outside the box to be innovative."

The Symposium is a full day, beginning at 8:30 a.m., with lunch and speakers from the arenas of business, education, criminal justice, and healthcare, plus keynote speaker Darell Hammond, founder and CEO of KaBOOM

"(Hammond) is, nationally, a big voice on this topic," Serwach says. "KaBOOM! goes around the country working with nonprofits on building playgrounds, and it's become huge. Both Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama have gotten involved to help them build these playgrounds."

Serwach adds that while some schools have cut back on recess to focus on test scores, many are turning that around upon seeing the need for unstructured play. Meanwhile, businesses are conducting an exercise in "corporate recess."

"It's a good thing to teach workers that there's not only one way to do something and that you can use things in different ways," Serwach says. "Our team did the corporate recess. They gave us a pile of things you'd find in an office and said, 'make something.' It was interesting to see how (this exercise) would stir your imagination."

In following this theme, GRCM wants to know what you can do with a spoon -- just a spoon. In this short video, they explore this concept. 

For more information and registration, click here
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