2016 Play Highlights

1. Contribution to Value of Play conference in South Carolina

2. Adventurous activities from Capture the Flag to Improv for Teachers brought the spirit of play to the Brainasium, Shift Lab, Adults Only Night and other offerings

3. Raising the bar for facilitators’ comfort and skill inspiring play

Looking Ahead

1. TELUS Spark will be a key player at the 2017 International Play Association Conference in Calgary where we will celebrate the International Day of Play in September

2. On June 17th, Neighbour Day will kick off our summer with activities designed to show that free play matters

3. Premiering a new daily play experience in the Atrium

4. In 2017, the introduction of the speaker series, Spark Talks, will focus on the ability of “play” to enhance innovation, learning and wellness while broadening our external audience. Talks will embolden new perceptions of TELUS Spark as a leader in provision of thought provoking, conversation stimulating content and showcase the unique qualities of our programming, exhibits and space


By: Meghan Durieux, Public Programmer, TELUS Spark

We play when we explore movement, when we engage with the world around us, when we interact with others and when we use our imaginations. The range of behaviours associated with play is extensive. As a result, it can be tricky to define exactly what “counts” as play. But we can agree that we recognize play when we’re doing it, and that it’s definitely fun.

At TELUS Spark, we know that the value of play goes beyond fun; it’s incredibly important. Play is central to learning, especially for children. Through play, we are able to develop our intertwined cognitive, physical and emotional capacities, and when these capacities are strong they help us throughout our lives.

It’s no surprise that play occupies a great deal of a child’s time, particularly early in life. At TELUS Spark, there is evidence of play throughout the science centre, however, there is one particular type of play that is especially visible, critical to development and sometimes a topic of hot debate. We’re talking about risky play.

Risky play is thrilling, so children are drawn to it. But it may come with a chance of injury, which is where the debate begins. Should we encourage risky play, or protect children from it? Experts, research and experience indicate that risky play is critical for child development because it creates opportunities for children to practice handling risks. When a situation is as safe as necessary, but not as safe as possible, children have the opportunity to navigate risk and develop the skills needed to handle adult-sized risks later in life.

We’ve gained international respect for how we push the boundaries and embrace risky play. At the Value of Play conference in South Carolina, TELUS Spark represented the Canadian perspective regarding the importance of risky play environments alongside delegates from the United Kingdom, United States and Germany. Our participation helped to inform the conversation about modelling risky play to create healthy and innovative communities. We will continue to be a voice in the discourse around play in 2017 when Calgary hosts the International Play Association conference where we will share our unique expertise and work with local partners to contribute to the legacy of play in Calgary.