Free Play Matters Task Force Update: Opportunities for Old-Fashioned Play

For the Wilton Free Play Matters Task Force, it’s all about finding and creating opportunities for old-fashioned play.

Following last month’s trip to Hartford to testify and advocate for SB 806 in front of the  CT General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Children, Wilton’s Free Play Matters Task Force remains focused on continuing its efforts to educate and inspire others about the critical importance of free play in the lives of children.

This month, the Task Force will host a Wilton Family Bicycle Rodeo, a Pop-Up Adventure Play Open House, and two Professional Development Workshops exploring theories on the process of play.

“Today we’re seeing that a lot of children don’t have the opportunity to ride their bicycles. And in some cases, they have never been taught,” said Colleen Fawcett, LCSW, the coordinator of Wilton Youth Services, which is part of the town’s Social Services Department. “The intent of our 2019 Wilton Family Bicycle Rodeo is to bring adults and children together to learn about bicycle and road safety, and to have a lot of fun in the process.”

The Rodeo will take place on Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Miller-Driscoll School (217 Wolfpit Rd.).

All ages are welcome to drop in any time between 10-11 a.m; the course closes at noon. There will also be a guided road ride for ages 12 and up, which departs at 10:30 a.m. Participants should arrive at 10 a.m. however, to allow time for a safety check.

Registration is recommended and can be done online.

The Pop-Up Adventure Play Open House is scheduled for Tuesday, April 23, from 1-5 p.m. at Comstock Community Center (180 School Rd.). While children enjoy creative and imaginative play, parents will have an opportunity to meet with Morgan Leichter-Saxby, co-founder of Pop-Up Adventure Play and a Playwork trainer and consultant, who for more than 10 years has worked to help make children’s right to play a reality.

Twenty-minute workshops will take place at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.; parents can learn more about the importance of play at all ages, and simple ways to support their children’s open-ended exploration at home and beyond. Registration is not required.

The following day, on Wednesday, April 24, the Wilton Free Play Matters Task Force will host two Professional Development Workshops giving all professionals and policy makers who work with or on behalf of children, two opportunities to meet with Morgan Leichter-Saxby to examine Playwork’s professional approach to supporting children’s play.

“In the Professional Development Workshops, we plan to explore key vocabulary and theories on the processes of play, including common points of friction, and look at material and social environments, which can encourage collaborative, inclusive, and satisfying experiences for all,” explains Fawcett. “We will also consider our own responses to children’s needs and interests, including specific ways to know when to step back and ways to step in.”

The first workshop on Wednesday, April 24th will take place from 9-11 a.m. at Miller-Driscoll School. The second workshop will take place at Cider Mill School (240 School Rd.), from 12:30-2:30 p.m..

All interested in attending should RSVP to Fawcett via email by April 11.

In looking ahead, Fawcett is eager to share the dates of the 2nd Annual Wilton’s Big Block Party Weekend. “Given the success of last summer’s block parties–about 1,400 people participated–we hope the community will join in and organize a party for their neighborhood on Saturday, June 8 or Sunday, June 9.”