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Newcomb hosts Get Out and PLAY! Conference

NEWCOMB - Local organizations are making an effort to address a lack of outdoor play in today's children.

On Saturday May 15, the first annual Get Out and PLAY! conference will take place at Newcomb Central School (NCS), presented by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry's (SUNY-ESF) Northern Forest Institute and in partnership with Children in Nature New York (CiNNY) and the Newcomb Central School.

The day-long series of play-based workshops will provide training and development for professionals and non-professionals working with children in formal and informal settings including organized sports, recreation leagues, youth programs, day and overnight camps, scouting, and childcare/day care.

Paul B. Hai, program coordinator for ESF's Northern Forest Institute (NFI) and co-founder of CiNNY, will be hosting and co-coordinating the event.

"Playing outdoors does more for children then just let them burn off excess energy," said Hai. "Researchers are seeing exposure to nature has a substantive, measurable effect on children's physical, psychological and mental well being."

Many national efforts are underway to create a societal shift back towards the value placed upon childrens' need to interact with nature and to play in unstructured, self-created, and self-regulated activities.

"It has a real effect on their behavior and study skills and their ability to think creatively," said Hai.

SUNY-ESF and CiNNY maintain that the scientific evidence supporting the positive effects of increased exposure to nature and informal play is overwhelming and hope to encourage the idea that it improves physical, mental, and emotional health, academic performance, and overall quality of life.

The Get Out and PLAY! Conference will include professional presenters and educators from a variety of different backgrounds, including:

* Elizabeth Lee ("Nature-Based Play" sessions)

* John LaRue ("New Games" and "Futsal" sessions)

* Bill Sampaio ("New Games" and "Futsal" sessions)

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