National Non-profit KaBOOM! Helps Aspen Institute Get Playful Link copied!

July 12, 2010

Aspen, CO

Entering its sixth year, the Aspen Ideas Festival is a conversation-packed exploration of some of the most important ideas and pressing issues in the world today. It’s been called “inspiring,” “exciting,” and “electric,” but never “playful.” That’ll soon change as one of this year’s themes in the second session is “The Promise of Play,” which will explore how play fuels human creativity and is as basic a biological drive as sleeping and eating.

But few people realize that play is in peril. Play is quickly disappearing from our children’s lives, and it’s taking a toll on the health and happiness of our children, our families and our communities. Today, children spend less time playing outdoors than any other generation, spending instead an average of 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen. Lack of play is directly linked to increased childhood obesity—one of the main issues facing younger generations today. The White House Childhood Obesity Task Force recently issued a report with recommendations on how to “solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.” Physical activity and play were cited as key elements.

Lack of play is also linked to a decrease in creativity, imagination, problem-solving skills, resiliency and an increase in classroom behavior problems. So, to help bring this issue to the forefront, the Aspen Institute has invited the top experts in the field of play to discuss the importance of play and how to bring it back into our children’s lives. The panel includes:

  • Darell Hammond – Panel moderator — KaBOOM! CEO & Co-Founder – Darell Hammond founded KaBOOM! in 1995 and began his lifelong dedication to saving play. Under Darell’s leadership as Chief Executive Officer, KaBOOM! has raised more than $165 million to build more than 1,800 playgrounds, skateparks, sports fields and ice rinks and improved thousands of others across America in just 14 years.
  • Kevin Carroll is the founder of Kevin Carroll Katalyst/LLC and the author of three highly successful books published by ESPN, Disney Press and McGraw-Hill. As an author, speaker and agent for social change (a.k.a. the Katalyst), it is Kevin’s “job” to inspire businesses, organizations and individuals – from CEOs and employees of Fortune 500 companies to schoolchildren – to embrace their spirit of play and creativity to maximize their human potential and sustain more meaningful business and personal growth.
  • Ellen Galinsky is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute (FWI), and helped establish the field of work and family life at Bank Street College of Education, where she was on the faculty for twenty-five years. Her more than forty books and reports include the best-selling Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, Ask The Children and the now-classic The Six Stages of Parenthood. She has published over 100 articles in academic journals, books and magazines.
  • Kathy Hirsh-Pasek is the Stanley and Deborah Lefkowitz Professor of Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia. She is the author of 11 books and over 150 professional articles on early childhood and infant development, with a specialty in language and literacy, and playful learning. Hirsh-Pasek was one of the investigators on the acclaimed NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, co-authored the language and literacy curricula for the State of California Preschools, and serves as an advisor on the NIH Toolbox initiative.
  • David Rockwell is an American architect and designer, who is the founder and CEO of Rockwell Group, based in New York with satellite offices in Madrid and Dubai. In addition to his word designing famous hotels, restaurants, and broadway shows, Rockwell conceived and designed a manipulable play systems called Imagination Playground™. The multi-million dollar Imagination Playground™ installation in Manhattan will open later this month.
  • Brendan Tuohey and his brother, Sean, founded PeacePlayers International (formerly Playing for Peace) in 2001. PeacePlayers International (PPI) is an innovative global organization founded on the notion that “children who play together can learn to live together,” and uses sport to unite and educate young people in divided communities. Over the past seven years, PeacePlayers International has worked with more than 45,000 children in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Cyprus, New Orleans and the Middle East.

In addition to offering these playful luminaries, this year, the festival will feature one of David Rockwell’s Imagination Playground™ in a Box systems, a portable breakthrough playspace concept to encourage child-directed, unstructured free play. With a focus on loose parts, Imagination Playground™ offers a changing array of elements that allows children to constantly reconfigure their environment and to design their own course of play. Giant foam blocks, mats, wagons, fabric and crates overflow with creative potential for children to play, dream, build and explore endless possibilities. Once festival attendees are done playing with this engaging equipment, the Aspen Institute will be donating the system to a local school.