Crawling down back roads, we search for house numbers and community centres. This became our norm, especially as we descend towards the end of our grand Canadian tour, spanning 7 weeks on the road.

We headed for the Play Symposium courtesy of Calgary Child’s Play. Thankfully, finding them was simple. A pile of cardboard boxes, tubes and fabric scattered outside was the give-away. This was in addition to the little yellow car’s paparazzi welcome, the obvious real star of the show.

Organised before the IPA World Triennial Conference, the Play Symposium engaged early arriving delegates and local play enthusiasts. They expressed interest in learning about playwork, playpods and gaining an overview of the current and future play scene in Calgary.

By 10 am on this Sunday morning, the hall impressively filled with enthusiastic play discussions echoing from diverse accents worldwide. Starting the session, we were coffee-fuelled and energetic. The audience listened intently, frequently interrupting to seek clarifications on terminology, laugh at our jokes, and discover similarities in their practices. Excitement filled us as we spotted familiar faces from our tour, smiling and waving from the back row. Additionally, several students from our online Playworker Development Course.

Pop Up Play - Calgary Play Symposium

Insights and Excitement from Kirsty Wilson

Kirsty Wilson from Bristol Scrapstore talked about playwork and playpods. She also hinted about some exciting projects which are in the pipeline in Calgary. It was great to present alongside fellow Playworkers from the UK. Each had a slightly different style and delivery but a passion and enthusiasm that was comforting and familiar.

The concluding address was from Robyn Monroe Miller, vice-president of the IPA. Sharing experiences from Australia, she spoke about the passion driving her work and expressed admiration for Stuart Lester and Wendy Russell’s contributions. Hearing playwork terminology referenced was great. It was very reassuring to learn that Robyn will begin her IPA presidency with an interest and understanding of supporting play, for play’s sake.

The Play Symposium was a great opportunity for play enthusiasts to get together, make connections and head into the week with an introduction into playwork. Hopefully this has sparked an interest to learn more with some of the exciting playwork presentations scheduled throughout the IPA conference and beyond.

Thank you for bringing us together Calgary Child’s Play and being the 16th stop on our tour. We look forward to watching your work blossom in play!

To learn more about our Canadian adventure, please check out our dedicated tour page. To hear more from us on a daily basis, check out our Facebook and Twitter.

By Andy