Remember to Play

Pipestone Flyer

Remember to Play presenter Vince Gowmon with event planners Lisa Cottrell, Community Facilitator for the Wetaskiwin & Area Early Child Development Coalition, and LeaAnn Elder and Nelda Stevens with Alberta Health Services.

    The Wetaskiwin & District Early Child Development Coalition held a “Remember to Play” workshop on the evening of Wednesday, June 12th, and the morning and afternoon of Thursday, June 13th.  Vince Gowmon was the outstanding presenter.  Attending the workshop were about 30 local women involved in various programs and organizations involved in providing healthy and educational development for preschool children.

    The workshop was very well structured, with a repeated cycle of a presentation of a concept, an opportunity to apply the concept in an open-ended interactive and creative small group play situation, an opportunity to debrief about how the concept worked in the play situation, presentation of additional aspects of the concept, a different play situation in which to again apply the concept, another debriefing time, and so on.  By the end of the workshop, the participants knew the concept experientially, emotionally, and cognitively so that they could truly use it, both with the children at work and in their own lives.

    This workshop, sub-titled “Awaken Your Playful Self,” is actually the first of a series of four.  The key concept is briefly expressed as, “Yes…And…”  When someone comes excitedly to us with a fun and creative idea, we so often respond with the “Yes…But…” which lets us be in control, logical, and serious.  The “but” is like a hand held out as a stop sign.  However, “Yes…And…” is honouring, accepting, allowing, nurturing, open to the invitation to play.  “Yes” can involve acknowledging, empathizing, appreciating, mirroring, paraphrasing, accepting, validating, and celebrating what is offered to you.  “And” builds upon the offer and offers something back and can include sharing, requesting, collaborating, suggesting and curiosity.   “Yes…And…”does not necessarily always mean agreement.  The “Yes” can be mirrored with this, this, and this, then the “And” can move in a different direction of this, this, and this.  “Yes…And…” allows the adult to move into the children's world of possibilities, fun, and creativity.  “Yes..And…” is honouring and can facilitate practical teamwork, connection and collaboration.  This also works between adults, as seen in the practice activities.  Some or all of this series of workshops would be of value to anyone in a situation where collaboration and cooperation skills are useful.  Besides, its a great tension reliever.  More information is available on Vince Gowmon's website:  

    Gowmon gave a handout describing 14 Play Values: permission, presence, joy and fun, laughter, imagination, creativity, flow, trust, silliness, spontaneity, connection and equality, curiosity and wonder, learning, and awareness and growth.  Fortunate the teen or adult who learns that these play values apply for a life time, however long that may be.    

    The site for the workshop was Calvary Baptist Church, where there was excellent space to sit in a circle for the more formal presentation segments, then get up and move about in another section of the room for the more active portions.  The church also catered the tasty lunch.

    I have attended many presentations in many settings for many purposes over the years, and I have seldom seen a presenter who appeared so calm and at ease while never missing a beat, who kept everything moving in a relaxed manner to a precise plan and schedule, as did Vince Gowmon.  He was very impressive.

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