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Building "Generation Play"

Two of the "Generation Play" symposium speakers, author Hara Estroff Marano and professor Carl Gabbard, discussed play focusing not only on the physical, but on psychological and learning aspects.

The Kompan Play Institute held a symposium Feb. 26-27 in Long Beach, Calif. called "Generation Play," featuring numerous speakers and attended by about 100 people interested in or responsible for the design of playgrounds.

"The mission of the symposium was to improve the image of play and kick off a rejuvenated dialogue about the modern playground," explained Helle Burlingame, MA, director of the KOMPAN Play Institute of North America.

The symposium examined playgrounds around the world and discussed different playground cultural preferences.

"The playground today has the potential of being a sustainable environment with a focus on natural features and critical use of materials in play equipment. The intent being to bring children closer to nature, learn responsible stewardship of the environment and practice rambunctious creative free play," added Ms. Burlingame, who is also a board member of the American Association for the Child's Right to Play and a child development specialist.

Innovative play equipment design and layout was a focus, particularly how it relates to getting kids back on the playground. Parents used to have trouble getting their kids to come in from playing, but now many parents find the challenge is to get their kids away from the computer or T.V.

Ms. Burlingame concurs. "It is time for the shapers of outdoor environments to challenge this situation. Today play is different. Complexity, variety and imagination in a fast paced virtual indoor world are on the toy agenda. We saw pictures from playgrounds around the world, discussed different cultural preferences and looked at innovative approaches to play equipment design and layouts."

You can find the presentations of the symposium speakers at

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October 13, 2019, 6:49 pm PDT

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