By Morgan Leichter-Saxby
Is it too late already to wish you all a happy New Year? I’m a sucker for the optimism of fresh starts. It always seemed right to me to count the year as beginning in January, when things are still cold and dark. That’s the spark in seeds germinating underground, ideas that we can’t yet explain. In that spirit, I am so pleased to announce some very cool plantings that we anticipate seeing sunlight in 2023.
We’ll be running a series of play events for adults, here in VT where I live. In the past year, doing two brave things: working locally and writing grant applications. So far, both those scary things have been going astonishingly well!
First, we received an award from the Vermont Community Foundation for $2,800 to host pop-up adventure playgrounds locally. I repainted the inside of my car and created the (Ford) Escape Pod, offering a quiet play option at Green Mountain Teacher’s Camp, and SUSU CommUNITY Farm! We played at BMAC and BRIC. I’ve been at SUSU monthly through the fall and winter, seeing firsthand what it can mean for children and their families to just play outside. To run and bump and laugh and fall over, eat a toasted marshmallow and popcorn, and repeat.
So I wrote another application.
SEVCA CHEP Funding
We know that people are struggling. People who work with children, who live with and care for children, have been struggling for a really long time. That’s because the systems are not designed to help, and we’ve been given a lot of harmful misinformation over the years. We’re doing this work because we also know that play is the way, for all of us.
This project focuses explicitly on connecting play and mental health for adults, using a playwork lens to offer a response. The hope is to provide a little bit of a lifeline, rope to grip when it feels like we’re at the end of our own. We’ve included loose parts play sessions in our training workshops, and run the Adult Play online course for several years. This is the first time that we’ve gone back to the drawing board and asked, what might help adults feel more playful right now?
Weaving a Cord with Two Threads
People of all ages need time and space to take safe risks, and friendly people to goof around with. We also need support in addressing those internal barriers that we carry with us, so we can give ourselves permission to feel free. We need opportunities to practice skills of play and play support, and build up our own reserves of patience, flexibility, creativity of thought and lightness of heart.
So we took the $19,000 they awarded and this is what we came up with. There are many ways to participate, whoever you are and wherever you live!
Play Workshops for Adults
People have asked us for years about pop-up adventure playgrounds for grown-ups, and we’ve done that! But this time, I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to invite people to share practices they’re passionate about, with people who want to learn about them. More than most workshops, I wanted the emphasis to be on support for the individual participant in creating their own experience. Every session theme is only that – a way for people to connect, a place to begin.
The events calendar is as follows (and to be updated regularly – please check back for more info!):
February 25 – Make Your Own Zine! (collage creations telling your own story) 1pm-5pm @ Rockingham Free Public Library. FB details can be found here.
April 1 – Chainsaws! (chainsaw techniques for fun and safety)
April 15 – Body Time (personal invitations for meditative movement)
April 22 – The Joy of Post (mail art and care packages)
Yes, that’s right! We’re doing paper arts, meditation, and chainsaws! Not at all the same time, though.
All of these events will be held in the greater Bellows Falls/Springfield VT area, and are free of cost to attend. If you are interested but need some other kind of assistance or accommodation, let me know!
As for the Second Thread…
I’ll tell you about that, next time!