Starting a Play Committee
Creating a local play commission task force is one of the five commitments to meet to make your city a Playful City USA community! Learn more.
Think about all the different folks you interact with on a daily basis—your neighbors, the PTA, your colleagues, the parents at Girls Scouts or Boy Scouts meetings, your fitness class group at the gym, and more! Each could be your greatest ally in play, and together as a group with a unified message and vision, you will ensure your community has everything it needs to be playful. Forming a play committee is essential to building a strong and efficient advocacy initiative that can RALLY in often bigger ways than you alone might do.
- Advertise for play committee members on bulletin boards all over town or by placing a tagline about play in your email signature or by putting a message on your voicemail. Make these messages inspiring and thought provoking. It will increase your response rate!
- Invite specific individuals to your play committee. People like to know that you thought of them specifically. So brainstorm a list of people who you think would be assets to your effort and call, email, and meet with them individually. This takes more time, but the benefits are worth it in the long run.
- Attend events sponsored by like-minded organizations to attract individuals to your play committee. Show interest in others’ work, and they will do the same.
Once interest is piqued, it’s time to meet. Reach out to all of the folks you have shared your message with and set up biweekly or monthly meetings; consistency is key to keeping a strong advocacy movement alive. You’ll want to bring a short but well-thought-out agenda, you’ll want to bring snacks (which are always appreciated), and you’ll want to begin and end on time. Allow time for fun and getting to know each other, too.
- Group exercise: Start a play committee meeting by asking group members to draw their perfectly playful community or even consider making a wish list. If you are among children, have them help you create a visual display.
- Guest speakers: If you can bring in a guest speaker to talk about advocacy, to discuss research on play, or to share a success story that involves play, you will have a very informed play committee. In addition, inviting municipal leaders to speak on the importance of play will be motivating for all, and you just might have a new Playmaker among your ranks!
- Take minutes at all meetings: Having a volunteer take minutes at all meetings will be appreciated by those who can’t attend every meeting but want to remain involved.
- Get ALL contact information: Name, email, address, and telephone number. It might be helpful to also have a contact form that asks for professional and social affiliations. This will help when you plan an event or want to do additional outreach or public awareness. Afterwards, make sure to have a follow-up column. This will ensure that you have follow-through.
Divide and conquer!
Lastly, consider the idea of having several “committees.” There will be folks in your group who have excellent media contacts and are successful with that kind of outreach; there are others who may be more creative and inventive, and they can be responsible for signage, marketing efforts, follow-up, and thank-you notes that are sincere, clever, and unique. There’s no limit to the number of committees you can have—and they are an excellent way to empower people and make the workload more manageable! Remember to include everyone in an area where he or she can succeed. Remember, when an individual feels personally connected and responsible to a cause or a group, he or she is more likely to remain active and engaged.
Grow your Playmaker Network!
Ever put your name into a contest to win something big, and the rules say “need not be present to win"? Admit it—we all have—and what a good philosophy. Your fellow Playmakers do not need to be a part of the formal play committee or even have to live in the same city as you! Remember—this is a national movement. You can RALLY potential Playmakers all over the country through emails and phone calls, growing your very own Playmaker Network out and up. Share best practices by email or in phone conversations.
Consider the following groups as resources to grow your Playmaker Network:
- Your extended friends and family across the country (or beyond) with children
- Your local police officers
- Your homeowners’ association
- Houses of worship
- Government agencies or offices
- Service groups such as Scouts, Kiwanis, Rotary, Realtors, and environmental and garden clubs
- Local businesses that cater to children’s needs
- School teachers and coaches
- Pretty much anyone...because all of us are affected by children in one way or another
"Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning."
– Fred Rogers, American television personality, 1928–2003