World Congress of Play: Fighting Back Against the “War on Play”


The World Congress of Play is coming up soon (September 8-10) and a major effort of the event is to find ways to fight back agains the "War on Play."  Below is a press release issued by the conference public relations company, Freeman PR, that explains the challenge and what we can do about it. 

Experts are reporting the over-scheduled child is putting the concept of free play on the endangered list.  The World Congress of Play 2014 explores this alarming decline in free play, and what can be done about it, at the second annual conference in San Francisco this September 8-10th.  The conference will feature a panel of experts, led by Meryl Neiman, who are set to discuss the idea that play is at risk and how communities can come together to ensure that children get the active play they need.

Ms. Neiman is Co-Founder and CEO of Playdate Planet, the web and Facebook application that allows parents to connect and schedule play dates online.

“My mission is to convince parents that their children need more time and opportunities for play,” says  Ms. Neiman, “Parents are choosing to fill their children’s schedules with structured sports and organized activities, and the schools are assigning too much homework to allow time for free play.  There is a real concern regarding the decline in unstructured play for children, and scientific research continues to show the importance of play to a child’s healthy development. The negative effects of this are becoming increasingly apparent, but I believe that if we all combine forces we can reverse the decline in play and improve our kid’s future.”

The panel of experts includes powerhouse play stakeholders who will discuss ways the play community can better market the importance of play to families. Among the speakers who will share their expertise on the idea of unstructured play, along with Neiman, are:

  •  Gwen Gordon, Producer & Director of Now Playing, a PBS documentary series.
  • Susan Magsamen, of Johns Hopkins University, a learning expert recognized for her work in fostering and enhancing the way we learn, play, create and grow.
  • Sally McConnell, Vice President of External Affairs at KaBOOM!, a non-profit dedicated to making sure that all children get the active play they need.
  • Mary Couzin, CEP & Founder of the Chicago Toy and Game Group, a company that promotes the importance of play through fashion, inventing and media events.
  • Michael Patte, PhD, a  Professor of Education at Bloomsburg University, where he is dedicating to protecting a child’s right to play.

“This panel is intended to act as a bridge of communication and cooperation between those who make their income from selling play and those who research and advocate its importance,” says Ms. Neiman, “We seek to form a working group of people who all share a common goal in reversing the decline in play.”

To register to attend the World Congress of Play, visit!register/cqvr. Registration is $1250. Cost includes all speaking sessions, networking events and meals. (Discount valid for the first 50 to register for the event)

For more information and ongoing updates to the list of speakers and agenda topics, visit or follow @WCOP2014 on Twitter.

One thought

  1. Looking forward to this wonderful event and so excited to be leading a conversation with some true play heroes. My hat is off to Richard and Charlie for providing a platform to fight the war against play!

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