YLI Awards Youth Development Practitioner Award

CLEMSON — The U.S. Play Coalition presented the inaugural Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research to its namesake – Joe L. Frost, the contemporary father of play advocacy – during the coalition’s 2017 Conference on the Value of Play April 4 at Clemson University.

The award recognizes a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play. The inaugural award was given to Frost during at a dinner at Clemson’s Madren Center celebrating his work with the play movement and recognizing other play researchers and practitioners.

According to Stephanie Garst, Executive Director of the U.S. Play Coalition, “Joe Frost has been an influencer for our organization’s work as well as for the world of play. The creation of this award is a fitting tribute.”

Frost is the Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. He is known across the world for his more than 30 years of work on early childhood and children’s play environments. Past president of both the Association for Childhood Education International and International Play Association/USA, he is the author or co-author of 18 books and numerous publications and has also served as a consultant for playgrounds worldwide.

Frost was influential in the creation of the U.S. Play Coalition, serving as a steering committee member since the coalition’s beginning in 2009. He served as a keynote speaker that year at the coalition’s first conference – then called the Summit on the Value of Play –and has been an honorary chair for each successive conference.

Inaugural Youth Development Practitioner Award

At the dinner, the U.S. Play Coalition also teamed with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute to present the first-ever Youth Development Practitioner Award. The award recognizes outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.

“There are many deserving practitioners across the nation, and our goal is to bring recognition to this field of service,” said Stephen Lance, Executive Director of the Youth Learning Institute.

The inaugural award went to Dan Mathews, Chief Operating Officer at Camp Twin Lakes, a Georgia-based organization that provides camp experiences for children with serious illnesses, disabilities and other life challenges.

Grant Awards

Another highlight of the dinner was the announcement of the 2017 Research Grants, which support budding research in the field of play, and the 2017 Action Grants, which support proposals to engage or educate people about play. Grant funding is a distinctive feature of the annual Play Conference. The U.S. Play Coalition has awarded $47,000 in funding to date. The 2017 grant recipients were:

2017 Research Seed Grants

  • Shan Jiang, PhD, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at West Virginia University for her proposal “Healing through Play: Play Opportunities as Positive Distractions at Pediatric Healthcare Environment.”

    2017 Action Grants

  • Britt Stetson for Harper’s Playground at Arbor Lodge Park in Portland, OR, a place where ALL children of ALL abilities can play, together.
  • Debora Wisneski and Miriam Kuhn for “Building a Community of PLAY through an Interdisciplinary University Collaborative” at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
  • Gregory Manley from City of Play in Pittsburgh, PA, for “Ludovia.” Ludovia is derived from the Latin, meaning “Playful way”. It is a weekly group class for young professionals and working-class minorities with a goal of cultivating a space where both audiences play well with each other.

The US Play Coalition

The US Play Coalition is an international network of individuals and organizations that promotes the value of play throughout life. Formed in 2009, the coalition is housed in Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department, part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.

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