Playful practitioners: playing along with children and young people, in and with nature

Hayes, Tracy ORCID logo ORCID: (2017) Playful practitioners: playing along with children and young people, in and with nature. In: 20th International Play Association (IPA) Triennial World Conference, 13-16 September 2017, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Unpublished)

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The title of my poster presentation was inspired by one of the practitioners who participated in my doctoral research. She told me: “I like to play, and I play along with them, and guide them, to help them”. I was reminded of her words recently when a parent, whose child was joining in an activity I was facilitating, remarked to me, “You really get stuck in don’t you?” As my suggestion to ‘high ten’ in celebration of completing some magnificent mud pies had resulted in me being spattered from head to toes in mud from her child’s muddy fingers, I could not disagree. I aim to share some of the discoveries I have made both during my research, and in my accompanying practice as a community-based volunteer for a UK conservation charity. My doctoral research was a Creative Exploration of Young People’s Relationship with Nature, and originated from my practice as an environmental youth worker. Its initial focus was on the ‘apparent crisis’ that is disconnection from nature. I looked at a range of facilitated programmes that offered outdoor learning opportunities and explored what young people thought of their experiences. I also talked with people who work with them, and are responsible for designing and/or delivering the programmes. Themes that emerged highlight the role of the practitioner/facilitator; peer, family and school pressures to ‘grow-up’, and be responsible; the importance of playfulness, kindness, comfort and belonging. This presentation will start with a story, which will then be used to explore issues relevant to the play community, including: Playfulness across the ages: does age matter? What do we mean by culturally appropriate play?; Playfulness in practice: what does this look like?; Playfulness in research: playful methodological approaches to gathering and presenting data. I believe there is a need for playful, creative approaches that allow young people to feel comfortable being in nature, rather than always doing things to, in and for nature. To understand what happens during this phase of a young person’s life involves taking account of their earlier experiences, as well as social, cultural and political contexts.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Departments: Academic Departments > Health, Psychology & Social Studies (HPSS) > Children, Youth, Families and Community Work
Depositing User: Tracy Hayes
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2018 14:35
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 18:30


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