One of the more interesting periods of my life was in my mid twenties way back in the late 70’s. I was working at a treatment center for children with serious psychiatric problems. My job was recreation leader. I was tasked with providing opportunities for art and play for the children ranging in age from 6-13. The arts and crafts were fun, but the games were a challenge. The kids did not have skills for softball or other sports. Kickball and dodgeball were surefire ways to have meltdowns when they were eliminated from the game. Somehow, I found a flyer about a workshop for something called “New Games” presenting a new (old) way to play that would help people like me learn cooperative games or other ways to play that refocused competition. I went and it changed my life.
My story as trainer for the New Games Foundation is for another time, but that first training was eye opening and reminded me that we humans are made for play. We just forget how, as we go through childhood and into adulthood. People get it scared out of them in competitive sports, if they are clumsy or not skilled. We get shy or embarrassed after being teased. We think no one wants to play with us. So many reasons it happens. New Games helped me find my playfulness again.
We all could use some play now, it rejuvenates us, and helps us feel connected to the world, and helps us focus on the moment. I was reminded about play by the New York Times in this recent series on play. We can’t play many of the New Games we did back then like the Lap Game or Prui because of physical distancing, but there are so many other ways to play and have some fun. I know I need more play.
Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and play a game.