In an era of increasingly patient-centered healthcare, understanding how health and illness play out in social context is vital. This volume opens a unique window on the role of play in health and wellbeing in widely varied contexts, from the work of Patch Adams as a hospital clown, to an Australian facility for dementia treatment, to a New Zealand preschool after an earthquake, to a housing complex where Irish children play near home. Across these and other featured studies, play is shown to be shaman-like in its transformative dynamics, marshaling symbolic resources to re-align how patients construe and experience illness. Even when illness is not an issue, play promotes wellbeing by its power to reimagine, invigorate, enliven and renew through sensory engagement, physical activity, and symbolism. Play levels social barriers and increases flexible response, facilitating both shared social support and creative reassessment.
This book challenges assumptions that play is inefficient and unproductive, with highly relevant evidence that playful processes actually work hard to dislodge unproductive approaches and thereby aid resilience. Solid research evidence in this book charts the course and opens the agenda for taking play seriously, for the sake of health.
This book was originally published as a special issue of the International Journal of Play.
Table of Contents
Preface Michael M. Patte
1. The state of play Cindy Dell Clark
2. A clown most serious: Patch Adams Cindy Dell Clark
3. Playfully engaging people living with dementia: searching for Yum Cha moments Julie Dunn, Michael Balfour, Wendy Moyle, Marie Cooke, Kirsty Martin, Clark Crystal and Anna Yen
4. From playground to patient: reflections on a traditional games project in a pædiatric hospital Judy McKinty
5. Living in a broken world: how young children’s well-being is supported through playing out their earthquake experiences Amanda Bateman, Susan Danby and Justine Howard
6. Physical activity play in local housing estates and child wellness in Ireland Carol Barron
7. Playfulness of children at home and in the hospital Katherine Ryan-Bloomer and Catherine Candler
8. Family play and leisure activities: correlates of parents’ and children’s socio-emotional well-being Diana D. Coyl-Shepherd and Colleen Hanlon
9. Using playfulness to cope with psychological stress: taking into account both positive and negative emotions Po-Ju Chang, Xinyi Qian and Careen Yarnal
10. Books worth (re-)reading: The act of creation by Arthur Koestler (1969) Cindy Dell Clark
Cindy Dell Clark is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University-Camden, USA. She has studied children’s vantage points within families and culture, both as an applied research consultant and as a scholar. She is the author of In A Younger Voice: Doing Child-Centered Qualitative Research (2010), In Sickness and In Play: Children Coping with Chronic Illness (2003) and Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith: Children’s Myths in Contemporary America (1998).