October 21st, 2020

Lethbridge Early Years Coalition to host Play! Summit

By Bobinec, Greg on January 15, 2020.

Vicki Hazelwood, co-ordinator at Lethbridge Early Years Coalition, announces their first Play! Summit in Lethbridge, for people to learn from presentations and speakers about opportunities in play, taking place next Tuesday. Herald photo by Greg Bobinec @GBobinecHerald

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald


Over a year ago, Lethbridge City Council unanimously voted to adopt the Lethbridge Play Charter, and now with close to 30 local organizations and stakeholders signing the charter, Lethbridge Early Years Coalition is excited to launch its first Play! Summit.

Lethbridge Plays is a collaboration of local organizations, businesses, educators and individuals who recognize the importance of play, the positive impact it can have on individuals and communities, and the healthy outcomes play provides for Lethbridge children, youth and all community members.

“We have also been working on a number of events, one of which is this Play Summit, which will be happening next Tuesday at the Lethbridge Public Library,” says Vicki Hazelwood, co-ordinator Lethbridge Early Years Coalition. “We are thrilled to have this keynote speaker, Dr. Anna Kirova, coming from the University of Alberta. Her credentials on play, her research, the work she has done all around the world, we get to hear from her and learn from her, so we are excited to invite everyone from the community to join us and get to learn as well about the importance of play and how that impacts children’s development and really makes a change in their lives.”

The half-day summit will begin at a lunch-and-learn session with lightning presentations by eight local organizations, highlighting play programs, spaces and opportunities within the city. Kirova will then give her keynote presentation entitled Learning to Play, Playing to Learn.

Existing stakeholders will express their continuation of their commitment to play by re-signing the Lethbridge Play Charter. Following, people will hear presentations from local experts including Dr. Robbin Gibb on building healthy brains through play, play therapist Danielle Lukenar-Olivieri, and Dr. Mike Mahon will discuss the role of play in child and community development in developing countries.

“We have had an exciting year building our play community in Lethbridge,” says Lori Harasem, City of Lethbridge Recreation and Culture Development manager. “As we work to identify resources that already exist, create new community resources, and create awareness of the importance of play, the summit is a great way to bring all of these things together for professionals, parents, grandparents, caregivers, staff, policymakers, and anyone involved with children and youth. We welcome anyone interested to attend the Play Summit.”

Hazelwood says the purpose of the summit is to bring all areas of the community together to learn more about the importance of play and the effect it has on the community.

“The summit is to bring together community, to build awareness of how important play is, but also to further our understanding and learning on the topic of play,” says Hazelwood. “What we are learning and what science is showing is that play is really foundational in the development of children, so through play children learn how to resolve conflict, they learn about themselves and the world around them. They learn to regulate their emotions and negotiate with their peers, so play is really an amazing vehicle for children to learn life skills, social skills and emotional skills that they will need to thrive as an individual in the future.”

The Play! Summit will take place on Tuesday starting at 11:45 a.m. for the lunch-and-learn session, costing $15 per person. At 1 p.m., the summit will begin and run until 4:30 p.m., costing $20 per person. The evening sessions will be free for the public to attend and presentations will be running from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Registration is required for this event, and can be done on lethbridgeplays.ca/summit.

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