The Development of Community Play in Takoma Park, Maryland

Posted
Fri, 09/22/2017 - 10:00am
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3 days ago
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What do you play in your community? If you are a child you may play a sport, take lessons in martial arts, play an instrument or all of the above. Maybe you are a super senior and you play table tennis or board games are your thing. You could be any age and signed up for a yoga class. I am guessing at some point in your life you played something.

Do you go outside and play just for the fun of it? When I was a child that is what I did almost daily. I put on my play clothes and ran as fast as I could out the door to play with friends. We played touch football in the street and basketball on my friend Robin’s hoop in her driveway. I rode my bike to the YMCA to play tennis, and basketball with mostly guys. I batted around a tennis ball before I actually knew how to play.

"Where are all the kids? Why are they not outside playing?"

In March 2009 I founded a play committee in my town because I just didn’t see kids or adults outside playing nearly as much as when I was a kid growing up in the '60s and '70s. As a former physical education teacher and coach, I found it alarming to see the decline in fun free play, so I felt compelled to do something about it. Where are all the kids? Why are they not outside playing? These questions crossed my mind, so when I met with a group of people we brainstormed about what we could do to encourage people to come out and play. 

Takoma Park, Maryland, borders Washington, DC, Silver Spring and Langley Park, Maryland. We are a walkable community with a metro, a thriving business community, tree-lined streets and fourteen playgrounds scattered in our two and a half-mile area. I am not saying I never see kids out playing on a nice day, but believe me; it is nothing like when I was a kid.

The photo above was taken by Selena Malott before our 7th Mid-Winter Play Day, my former Intern Alison Reynolds and I are on the seesaw with several volunteers behind us. 

In September 2009 we held our first Play Day. We planned about twenty activities for people of all ages, so they could play whatever they liked. Children as young as three tried mini tennis with me and even had my good friend Colleen, 82 years young, join in on the fun. Our State Senator Raskin led Simon Says to a group of people of all ages. The Director of the Recreation Department was so supportive of us that she said to me, “Pat, this was such a success we will reserve the Middle School for you next year.” Eventually, I became The Play Lady.

As time went by we not only planned an annual Play Day in September, but also a Mid-Winter Play Day. This coming February 11, 2018, will be our 8th Annual Mid-Winter Play Day. Come join us to play! 

This fun free event is held in our Community Center. People tell me all the time how much they love this event. It gives them something to do on a day when nothing else is going on. Plus they enjoy the spontaneous play of trying on the dress-up clothes, playing in the balloon game room, decorating a cookie, playing with play dough and being creative with the just boxes activity. 


Photo courtesy of Selena Malott

Watch a short video of our last Mid-Winter Play Day: Takoma Park City TV, Mid-winter Play Day:

Takoma Park Mid-Winter Play Day 2017

By the second play day, we had a mud pie event. Folks, if you haven’t created a mud pie in your life or recent years, you don’t know what you are missing, I suggest you gather your materials, go outside, invite some kids to join you and get cracking making your pie.

I have been so fortunate to have all kinds of people from a variety of backgrounds join me to play.

It doesn’t matter what you like. Play is so broad we could have a mile-long list of what people enjoy. You may prefer to play a sport, but your family member or friend may prefer crocheting. I urge you to give yourself some much-needed playtime as soon as possible and as often as possible. I personally strive to play daily, which reminds me, it is Tuesday night and I need to get ready to go walk to Games Night. I can’t miss a chance to play.

For those of you who want to know more about the Development of Community Play in Takoma Park, Maryland, I suggest you click on www.letsplayamerica.org. Check out our events and then go to the Press tab. You will find a slew of information. If you want to save time watch the link below to one of my two TEDxTalks on play. TedxNavasink: www.tedxnavesink.com/project/pat-rumbaugh

If you are looking for ways to form a play club, plan a play event and more then check out the Blog Posts I wrote for Psychology Today.
Once you have had your fill of play information shoot me an email [email protected] and Ask The Play Lady a play question.

PS Let’s Play Takoma Week is September 17-24, 2017 the goal is to raise the awareness for the importance of play for everyone and to raise funds for Let’s Play America. 

Hurray for play!
- Pat, The Play Lady

Author

Pat Rumbaugh, The Play Lady lives in Takoma Park, Maryland USA. In March, 2009, she founded a play committee in her hometown Takoma Park, Maryland. In early 2011 they started calling themselves Takoma Plays...

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