Seniors Outreach - March 7, 2018

As one walks into most Drop-In Centres across Alberta (in Canada, and in other nations in the world), it is the most prominent activity observed going on: PLAY. Some folks are circled around a table playing cribbage, scrabble, whist, or other card or board games; some are highly physical with a cue and rolling balls on a snooker or pool table; some are manipulating a coffee, tea or juice cup and regaling each other with stories and expressions; while others find playful ‘work’ as a physical form of involvement and manipulation that enables them to enjoy the time at the centre. Regardless of the ‘activity’, PLAY is happening.

Play, we most often recognize, includes ways to:

• exercise or employ oneself in diversion, amusement, or recreation.

• do something in sport that is not to be taken seriously.

• amuse oneself; toy; trifle (often followed by with).

• to take part or engage in a game. - []

From a TED Talk on YouTube: Stuart Brown: Play is more than fun (2009-03-12), the following insights became apparent about PLAY:

As a child, we are quite natural at it. Starting at the stage of a mother babbling, cooing, or smiling and touching a baby through joyful expression revealed by soft facial features, and distinct body language’- play is evident. As we begin to develop and grow as a child, the signals of play in terms of expression, facial features and physical manipulation begin to lead into an overwhelming sense of curiosity and exploration of our environment.

The result, throughout our lifetime, is that we begin to recognize a variety of playing that we enjoy – Social Play (rough & tumble; organizational and learning; etc.)

• Imaginative Play/Fantasy Play – telling our own internal stories/acting out of stories

• Spectator/Sports Play – playing games/watching games

• Hitting a glitch in our play as we move to adolescence and adulthood: We begin to have a choice of either becoming PLAY ENCOURAGED OR PLAY DEPRIVED.

One begins to see that this choice has consequences. If one becomes PLAY DEPRIVED, especially throughout our adulthood and into the season of life where we become a Senior in the society – the loss of INTEREST in physical play, imaginative play, and social play develops into a ‘DRYING UP’ of our interactions with others, promotion of less imagination and a lack of risk-taking, all of which may well stymie our abilities to develop physical skills to actually play any sports or games with the end result promoting a DEPRESSED and ANTI-SOCIAL personality.

On the other hand, those that recognize how important an ongoing playfulness and imaginativeness is, consistently ‘risk’ and socially engage with others in such a way that, as Stuart Brown contends in his TED TALK that we need to “engage in life with body, object, social, fantasy and transformational kinds of play in order to maintain our NEOTENY (Knee-ought-n-e) or the retention of immature qualities into adulthood.” - (There, we learned a new word today!)

At Seniors Outreach, we encourage the development of play that is healthy and socially engaging through our Drop-In Centre activities and our program events and interactions. This is also provided through attendance at Monthly Information Meetings, Potlucks, volunteerism, and special events/bus trips/etc. Join us in any of these, if you are able.

See you there!