About Us

The US PLAY Coalition: A Partnership to Promote the Value of Play throughout Life is made up of individuals and organizations that recognize play as a valuable and necessary part of a healthy and productive life. We are housed within Clemson University’s College of Health, Education and Human Development and express our gratitude to the university and the college for their continuing support.

The Coalition was born of The Summit on the Value of Play which took place at Clemson University in the Summer of 2009 (for more information see the "Conferences" menu above). The attendees at this important summit made a commitment to create a coalition whose purpose would be to bring together organizations and individuals in support of play and to open up opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to incorporate play into their lives.

The US PLAY Coalition has created 7 committees that each work to support play through various means. See the "Action Committees" menu above to learn more about these committees. The U.S. Play Coalition also hosts an annual Conference on the Value of Play each February. Use the "Conferences" pulldown menu to access information on the upcoming conference and to see information on past conferences.

An update, published March 2012, on the Coalition's progress towards meeting the Calls to Action developed at the 2009 Summit on the Value of Play is available here.

We invite you to explore the resources on this website and to become involved with the US PLAY Coalition!

US Play Coalition Steering Committee


  • Dr. Brett Wright, Chair, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, Clemson University - wright@clemson.edu
  • Fran P. Mainella, Visiting Scholar, Clemson University, Former National Park Service Director - fmainel@clemson.edu

Executive Director

  • Stephanie Garst - spgarst@clemson.edu

Steering Committee

  • Jodie Adams - Past President of NRPA, Director of Springfield-Greene County Park Board in Springfield, MO - jadams5557@aol.com
  • Dr. Joel Agate - Assistant Professor, Recreation and Leisure Studies, SUNY College at Brockport - jagate@brockport.edu
  • Dr. Larry Allen - Dean, College of Health, Education and Human Development, Clemson University - lalln@clemson.edu
  • Joan Almon - Alliance for Childhood, joan.almon@verizon.net
  • Dr. Bob Becker - Academic Program Director, Strom Thurmond Institute of Government & Public Affairs, Clemson University - rhb1@clemson.edu
  • Richard J. Dolesh - Chief of Public Policy, National Recreation and Park Association - rdolesh@nrpa.org
  • Jackie Epping - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - jge5@cdc.gov
  • Stephen Hamelin - Vortex Aquatic Structures - shamelin@vortex-intl.com
  • Dan Hendy - CPSI, Site Masters Inc. - danh@sitemastersinc.com
  • Teri Hendy - CPSI, President, Site Masters Inc. - teri@sitemastersinc.com
  • Tom Kalousek - Director, Safe Play for All - tkalou@aol.com
  • Ingrid M. Kanics, OTR/L, Kanics Inclusive Design Services LLC, inclusiveplay@mindspring.com
  • Kenneth S. Kutska - Executive Director, International Playground Safety Institute, LLC - kskutska@aol.com
  • Tony Malkusak, ASLA, CPSI, President and Landscape Architect for Abundant Playscapes, Inc., antonio@abundantplayscapes.com
  • Danielle Marshall - Execute Director, Girls on the Run of Central Maryland
  • Tom Norquist - Senior Vice President Product Development/Sales & Marketing - PlayCore/GameTime - tomn@gametime.com
  • Eric W. O’Brien - Chairman, O’Brien & Sons, Inc. - eric@obrienandsons.com
  • Lynn Pinoniemi - Director of Marketing, Landscape Structures, LynnPinoniemi@playlsi.com
  • Peggy Riggs, Co-Director at Brio2 Solutions, priggs1732@gmail.com
  • Dr. Dee Stegelin - Professor, Teacher Education, Eugene T. Moore School of Education, Clemson University - dstegel@clemson.edu
  • Dr. Michael Suk - Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery for the Geisinger Health System - msuk@geisinger.edu
  • Rita Watts - The Play & Playground Encyclopedia - rita@playgroundprofessionals.com
  • Dr. Debora Wisneski - Professor, Early Childhood Education, Teacher Education Department, University of Nebraska Omaha - dwisneski@unomaha.edu



US Play Coalition’s 2015 Conference on the Value of Play: Advancing Play - February 15 to February 18 - This conference is an opportunity to share how you are implementing innovative strategies to engage your community in play. We also seek research that illuminates the diverse benefits of play including physical, social, emotional, and cognitive well-being. Our goal is to bring these many perspectives together and to facilitate the development of new methods of advancing the play movement. Keynote speakers include Dr. Peter Gray and Dr. Kevin Ross Emery.

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  • Active Living Research 2015 Conference - February 22 to February 26 - Mark your calendars for February 22 - 26, 2015 and plan to join ALR in sunny San Diego. Check the ALR website for updated conference details. Look for the Call for Abstracts to be released May 2014.

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  • The 2015 George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites - March 29 to April 2 - "GWS2015 is your place to engage with colleagues who share your commitment to excellence ... to educate yourself about the latest trends and ideas ... to raise expectations for yourself and your career!" This event will be held in Oakland, California on March 29–April 2, 2015.

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  • Children & Nature Network Conference 2015 - April 7 to April 9 - Join leaders from around the world to hear what others are doing to create nature-rich communities that are so critical to the health and wellbeing of children and families. Learn about the latest research and policies, hear from leading health and urban planning experts, and discover innovations in technology that bring new audiences to nature. You don’t want to miss this ground-breaking conference.

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