We're starting a series on some of our favourite play people - people we admire and are inspired by in the world of play.
To kick things off, we would like to introduce the wonderful Robyn Monro Miller, who we are very fortunate to have on our board of directors at Touched by Olivia.
Robyn Monro Miller
What does your organisation do? Network of Community Activities is a NGO that has a 40 year history of supporting children's participation in play, culture and the arts. We are the peak body for OSHA services in NSW and have around 850 member organisations.
How did you get involved in the world of play? I started out in Education and moved into school age care... Knowing how valuable play is to children's development it became increasingly obvious to me that we cannot take it for granted.
What is your favourite playground memory as a child? The super high slide with the line of children going down it conga style.What does inclusion mean to you? It means belonging... When you practise inclusion you are not noticing the challenges in participation just looking for opportunities to ensure and enhance participation.
What is your favourite experience in the play world? Most recently it would have to be the launch of the General Comment 17 on Article 31 in Geneva and it was fantastic to know that we had engaged the UN in demanding countries be more accountable for play and children's access to rest, leisure and the arts.
Alive or dead, who would be the four people you'd bring on a dream play date?
It would have to be some of the most playful people in the world... My colleagues at the International Play Association ... Whenever we are together I feel playful... But who to choose??? It would not be very good politics to choose between them! (Robyn is the Australian representative and the international Vice President of the International Play Association)
What is the best piece of advice you have been given? Lots of great advice has been sent my way over the years...probably most relevant is the old expression "we do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing" I am proud to say my 10 year old self is alive and well in my middle aged body!!
It is really quite sad how many people think that in order to have credibility you have to be seriously dull! We all could learn so much by ensuring our workplaces remain playful... innovation and motivation are natural results from a playful workplace.
What is your favourite thing about play? It's spontaneous and the joy play brings to your heart at any age.
Does play bridge barriers? How? I don't think play itself bridges barriers, but people do through play and access to play spaces. The participation in play opens up understanding and creates opportunities for children and adults to try new experiences and engage with other people, Just the process of parents visiting a play space with their child can provide a non threatening social opportunity for making new friends and reducing that feeling of isolation.
Where do you see the world of play headed in the next ten years? I see a growing recognition for the importance of play in the healthy mental and physical development of kids.. We are starting to see a push back from parents and through our advocacy to demand spaces and time for play.
Thank you Robyn for playing with us and being an amazingly dedicated and passionate for childrens rights in Australia, and internationally.