Rescheduled to: Wednesday, February 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM
There is a growing concern among pediatricians, mental health experts, educators and environmentalists that more and more children are growing up today with little or no opportunity for unstructured play, especially outdoors. A new documentary film, Where Do the Children Play? examines this issue. Providence Childrenâ€™s Museum joins Lincoln School and Southside Community Landtrust to present a free public screening of this film on Wednesday, January 28. An audience discussion about the ideas explored in the film will follow.
Where Do the Children Play? grew out of Elizabeth Goodenoughâ€™s work on â€œsecret spaces of childhoodâ€ at the University of Michigan. The film was written and directed by Christopher Cook and produced by Michigan Television.
â€œChildren need free time every day to discover their own abilities, desires, and limitations,â€ says Goodenough, who also edited the filmâ€™s companion volume, A Place for Play. â€œOpen-ended exploration and play in woods, fields, vacant lots, or other semi-wild spaces enhances curiosity and confidence throughout life.â€
A marked decline in childrenâ€™s spontaneous and creative play is a key factor in their increasing mental health problems, according to a recent statement from an international group of educators and childrenâ€™s advocates. They called for â€œa wide-ranging and informed public dialogue about the intrinsic nature and value of play in childrenâ€™s healthy development.â€
Their letter echoed a recent warning from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): children have far too little time for unstructured play, which leads to increased stress in their lives. Causes of the demise of play cited by the group include parental fears of â€œstranger dangerâ€ and the explosion of electronic entertainmentâ€”to the point of addiction for someâ€”in the lives of todayâ€™s children. These and other issues are explored in the film.
The lead author of the AAP report, Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg of the Childrenâ€™s Hospital of Philadelphia, appears in the documentary, along with Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, British â€œplayworkerâ€ Penny Wilson, and other experts in child development, psychology, and urban planning.
Most striking, however, are the scenes of children themselves engaged in the rapt state of self-directed play and then talking about the importance of time and opportunity for free play in their increasingly hectic lives.
Where Do the Children Play?
Location: Lincoln Schoolâ€™s Ebner, Elson, Hart Music Center – 301 Butler Avenue, Providence, RI
When: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM
RESCHEDULED: Wednesday, February 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM
For more information about the screening, contact Giovonne Calenda at email@example.com.
Image Credit: From the film, Where Do the Children Play?