The US Play Coalition recognized and honored play innovators and researchers during the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play on April 10 at Clemson University.

Each year, the US Play Coalition, a national organization based in Clemson, funds both action and research grants. Since the conferences began 9 years ago, the Coalition has given $52,000 in grants. In addition to the grants, two awards are given to outstanding practitioners and researchers who have advanced the field of play. The awards – the Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research and the Youth Learning Institute’s Youth Development Practitioner Award – were both inaugurated at the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play.

Olga Jarrett was the recipient of the 2018 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research at the Value of Play Conference.

Olga Jarrett was the recipient of the 2018 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research.
Image Credit: Clemson University

Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

This award is named for Joe L. Frost, the contemporary father of play advocacy, and recognizes a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play. Frost was influential in the creation of the U.S. Play Coalition, serving as a steering committee member since the organization’s beginning in 2009.

The 2018 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research was presented to Dr. Olga Jarrett, Professor Emerita of early childhood/science education at Georgia State University, evaluator of a National Science Foundation project in Belize, and a past president of The Association for the Study of Play and the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play.

Jarrett has dedicated 25 years to play advocacy and play research. Much of her research has focused on play deprivation and its effect on economically deprived and minority children.  Using her research as support, she initiated and helped to draft legislation in Georgia that would make playtime and recess mandatory for all school children. She has supervised many doctoral students who have conducted play research and have been involved in play advocacy locally and internationally.

Stephanie Garst, executive director of the US Play Coalition, said Jarrett’s dedication and impact on this field of study captured the spirit of the Joe Frost Award.

“Dr. Olga Jarrett is known in our industry as an influential change maker,” Garst said. “A staunch advocate for recess, she authored the US Play Coalition’s white paper ‘A Research-Based Case for Recess’ in 2013 and is working on an update for publication in 2019.  Retirement has not slowed down Olga’s passion for ensuring our children’s right to play.  She truly embodies the spirit of Joe Frost and this award.”

Pat Rumbraugh, center, was awarded the Youth Learning Institute's Youth Development Practitioner Award.

Pat Rumbaugh, center, was awarded the Youth Learning Institute’s Youth Development Practitioner Award.
Image Credit: Clemson University

Youth Learning Institute’s Youth Development Practitioner Award

For the second year, the U.S. Play Coalition teamed with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute to present the 2018 Youth Development Practitioner Award to Pat Rumbaugh. Known as “The Play Lady,” Rumbaugh is a play advocate and co-founder of Let’s Play America.

This award recognizes outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.

“Pat Rumbaugh is a worthy recipient of the youth development practitioner award because of her dedication to providing fun free play events for all children in her community and beyond,” Garst said.  “Her youthful enthusiasm is a direct product of her playful spirit!  Pat ‘The Play Lady’ is play royalty!”

For more than 10 years, Rumbaugh has been an advocate, author, and participant in play activities for youth and the young-at-heart. She has made youth development and play her life’s work, from the time she began her career as a physical education teacher to now, as she provides multiple avenues for youth to grow, honing valuable business skills and learning about advocacy and community involvement. She also wrote a children’s book called, “Let’s Play at the Playground,” which encourages children to choose outdoor play.

 (center, left) Starr Jordan and Nichole Myles with the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry and (center, right) Patty Stine and Cheryl Simpson, with Pure Play Every Day, Inc., were the 2018 Action Grants winners.

(center, left) Starr Jordan and Nichole Myles with the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry and (center, right) Patty Stine and Cheryl Simpson, with Pure Play Every Day, Inc., were the 2018 Action Grants winners.
Image Credit: Clemson University

2018 Action Grant Winners

Patty Stine and Cheryl Simpson, Co-Founders of Pure Play Every Day, Inc., were the recipients of an Action Grant of $1,000 for their project titled “Loose Parts Play Builds Tight Communities.” The goal of their project is to have loose parts play, which includes PVC pipes, balls, bedsheets to make tents, etc., as part of all National Night Out events throughout Charles County, Maryland.

Starr Jordan & Nichole Myles, with the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry were the recipients of the second action grant of $1,000 for their project titled “Unequal Playing Field – a panel discussion on the importance of accessing equal play for girls and girls of color.” Their project goal is to advance ideas and share information about disparities in access to safe, equitable play options for under-resourced children. The panel will target teachers, educators, advocates, parents and administrators. It is meant to spark action on behalf of all Charleston’s children, especially those in under-served communities and communities of color.

2018 Research Grant Winner

Muntazar Monsur, Ph.D., Nilda Cosco, Ph.D., and Robin Moore from North Carolina State University were the recipients of the 2018 Research Grant of $3,000 for their project entitledTransitional play: Exploring the play value of classroom indoor-outdoor relationship of space.”

The team plans to research transitional play and investigate the play value of transitional semi-covered space in an early childhood classroom to find out if it increases outdoor play time for children and increase children’s diversity in play.

The U.S. Play Coalition
The U.S. 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.