1st Edition

Play and playfulness for public health and wellbeing

Edited By Alison Tonkin, Julia Whitaker Copyright 2019
    230 Pages
    by Routledge

    230 Pages
    by Routledge

    The role of play in human and animal development is well established, and its educational and therapeutic value is widely supported in the literature. This innovative book extends the play debate by assembling and examining the many pieces of the play puzzle from the perspective of public health. It tackles the dual aspects of art and science which inform both play theory and public health policy, and advocates for a ‘playful’ pursuit of public health, through the integration of evidence from parallel scientific and creative endeavors.

    Drawing on international research evidence, the book addresses some of the major public health concerns of the 21st century – obesity, inactivity, loneliness and mental health – advocating for creative solutions to social disparities in health and wellbeing. From attachment at the start of life to detachment at life’s ending, in the home and in the workplace, and across virtual and physical environments, play is presented as vital to the creation of a new ‘culture of health’.

    This book represents a valuable resource for students, academics, practitioners and policy-makers across a range of fields of interest including play, health, the creative arts and digital and environmental design.

    List of illustrations



    List of contributors


    Julia Whitaker and Alison Tonkin

    1 Improving the public’s health through playful endeavours

    Julia Whitaker and Alison Tonkin

    2 Playing for a healthy brain

    Alison Tonkin

    3 The science of public health

    Alison Tonkin and Lisa Whiting

    4 The art of public health and the wisdom of play: Participation in the creative arts as a route to health and wellbeing

    Eric Fleming and Julia Whitaker

    5 Playing together: The art and the science of relationships

    Julia Whitaker and Alison Tonkin

    6 Play, attachment and the empathy–equity connection

    Julia Whitaker

    7 Finding playfulness in the everyday: An antidote to the ‘saturation’ of modern family life

    Julia Whitaker

    8 The playful pursuit of child public health

    Jenni Etchells and Alison Tonkin

    9 Play, disability and public health

    Claire Weldon and Alison Tonkin

    10 A playful working life and beyond

    Christina Freeman and Alison Tonkin

    11 Playing in a digital world

    Alison Tonkin

    12 A place for play: Creating playful environments for health and wellbeing

    Julia Whitaker and Alison Tonkin

    13 Playful policy

    Rachel Bayliss and Alison Tonkin

    14 Playful endings: Making meaning at the end of life

    Julia Whitaker and Alison Tonkin




    Alison Tonkin is Head of Higher Education at Stanmore College, United Kingdom. Alison has a research background in health promotion for pre-school children and has worked as both a diagnostic and therapeutic radiographer.

    Julia Whitaker has worked therapeutically with children and families in both public and private sectors for the past 30 years. Originally trained as a social worker and family therapist, Julia is also a registered Health Play Specialist with wide-ranging clinical and teaching experience in the field.