power of play, positive impact, child development, reducing inequities.

Reducing Inequality Through the Power of Play

Children of color are significantly more likely than white children to experience poverty, hunger, homelessness and unequal access to healthcare. One primary cause is the structural racism that permeates our society in Minnesota and beyond.

Many are working both individually and collectively to make changes, large and small, to help ensure all children – no matter their race, ethnicity or background – are given equal opportunities to thrive.

One powerful tool that often goes overlooked: The power of play and the positive impact it has on child development and in reducing inequities.

In this panel discussion, three child-development experts will detail the urgent need for action in addressing the negative effects of racism and inequality on children’s health. They will make a case that playful learning, in the home and in the classroom, is a proven driver of every child’s growth and development. They will also address the play gap that many children of color experience and discuss ways to overcome it.

Parents, caregivers and educators will learn more 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.


This virtual event is free and open to everyone. Registration is required.

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 will be moderated by Bob Ingrassia, vice president of external relations at Minnesota Children’s Museum.

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