Reducing Inequality Through the Power of Play

Could play be the missing tool in helping give all children equal opportunities to thrive?

In this panel discussion, three child-development experts detail the urgent need for action in addressing the negative effects of racism and inequality on children’s health. They make a case that playful learning, in the home and in the classroom, is a proven driver of every child’s growth and development. Parents, caregivers and educators learn about the power of unstructured play, what our systems need to improve to ensure equitable access to play and how adults can bring more play into children’s lives in order to help them grow into young adults who will help tackle the inequalities that harm children.

 

Studies show that play has an immensely positive impact on children’s growth and development. For those looking for ways to get the most out of playful learning, we’ve put together a tip sheet on how adults can support children’s play both at home and at school.

Resources

The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health

The American Academy of Pediatrics provides an evidence-based look at the negative impact racism has on child and adolescent development and health outcomes. Co-authored by panelist Dr. Jacqueline Douge.

Learning Through Play: Increasing Impact, Reducing Inequality

A new study by The Lego Foundation explores how learning through play reduces achievement gaps between children from different social backgrounds. Co-authored by panelist Bo Stjerne Thomsen, PhD.

About the Panelists

Dr. Nathan Chomilo is a respected Twin Cities pediatrician and internist. He is an outspoken equity advocate whose work has included championing the impact early childhood intervention and healthcare access have on the long-term prospects of children and how physicians and health systems can address racial and health equity. He is also the medical director for the State of Minnesota Medicaid and MinnesotaCare programs, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Minority Health, Equity and Inclusion’s Executive Committee and serves on the board of directors of Reach Out and Read MN and Reach Out and Read National.

Dr. Jacqueline Douge is a respected writer, speaker and pediatrician. She’s also the founder of What is Black, LLC, a media company engaged in uplifting Black children and families through storytelling across books, podcasts and film. She is a co-author of the AAP Policy Statement, “The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health.”

Bo Stjerne Thomsen, PhD, is the vice president and chair of learning through play at The Lego Foundation. Throughout his career, he has become a respected expert on child development, play and learning, and works to raise awareness around the role and impact of play on creativity and lifelong learning. His research has been widely published and most recently he co-authored the 2021 report, “Learning Through Play: Increasing Impact, Reducing Inequality.”

The discussion is moderated by Bob Ingrassia, vice president of external relations at Minnesota Children’s Museum.

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