World Play Day, which is now celebrated each year on 28 May, is an initiative to celebrate and affirm the importance of play to a child’s educational development. Begun by Dr. Freda Kim, a British educator and play advocate in 1999, the concept has now spread to 25 countries, including Malaysia. Supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), among other agencies, the event maintains that “the encouragement of creativity from an early age is one of the best guarantees of growth in a healthy environment of self-esteem and mutual respect – critical ingredients for building a culture of peace.” In 2011 the program was expanded to meet to include children in disaster and war zones. Dr. Kim noted that “while adults have understanding of these disasters and are able to verbalize, children need to act out the tragedy and deal with the trauma in their lives through play. By allowing children to play you are helping them to a healthy adulthood.”
The one day event, held at Taylor’s University
Lakeside campus’ sports complex, was attended by 160 children from various organizations and community centers such as the Chin Student Organization
, the Early Steps Care Centre
, the Lifepoint Social Club
, the Persatuan Kebajikan Kanak-Kanak Kurang Upaya (P3KU)
, the Parent Support Group
and the Stepping Stones Living Center
Five CSI committee members and ten other Taylor’s students were among those who volunteered for the event alongside others from Sunway University, Damansara Utama Methodist Church, Calvary Church and individuals, totaling more than 100 volunteers. The event began with an aerobic exercise for the children, to warm them up before the futsal and frisbee matches. There were also about twenty booths onsite, which included activities like face painting, sand art, mini golf, pinata and twister. Volunteers also created a giant Snakes & Ladders game for the event making the classic board game more challenging playing it life size. The children were also entertained by a balloon sculptor and clown, Elroy Ng, who has been a volunteer for the past three World Play Days.
There was also a music therapy session by Ms Sherrene Teh, a registered music therapist with the Australian Music Therapy Association. With a Master of Music Therapy from the University of Melbourne, Ms Teh has a growing private practice working with individuals and groups of children with special needs. Parents and children with special needs joined the 1-hour session and learned ways to enrich their development using music. “Every child has the right to play. Children from every background and race, regardless of their nationality, ability, and social status are all close to God’s heart. My most memorable experience is seeing children play together without discrimination and prejudice, without threatening people who have different religion and race. This is how we should educate our children at large,” said Joyce Tan, the coordinator of this year’s World Play Day. Mr. Albert Ling, CSI Volunteer Advisor, adds “Taylor’s University offered to be the venue sponsor for this year’s World Play Day to expose our students to more non-governmental organizations. We are looking to strengthen our connection to these agencies, and at the same time support Malaysian Care in making this day a success.” Parents and children went home with goody bags filled with snacks and merchandises from local sponsors.
Written by Amelia Ooi