Play To Live: Life Skills and Joy Through the Natural Talent to Play by Brian VanDongen - Book Spotlight and Author Interview

Synopsis - 

Play To Live: Life Skills and Joy Through The Natural Talent To Play by author Brian VanDongen takes you back to your childhood to remind you about what being a child is all about. Playing! We all have those fond childhood memories of growing up playing with our friends in social settings. Developing social skills and learning how to handle friendships and relationships.

What we didn't realize at the time was that those skills we learned for the building blocks which lay the foundation for the rest of our lives. What are our children learning right now? How are they playing now and what part are we playing in how our children interact with the world around them.

For many children, their idea of play and playing now consists of talking to friends online and playing with electronic devices, staying safe indoors, and not venturing further than their own small safe world which we have created.

Inside Play To Live you'll discover:
  • Understanding what it means to play.
  • Where play has gone and what has changed?
  • How playing inside the box promotes the simplicity of play.
  • Why risky play is not the same as dangerous play. Are we too overprotective?
  • That climbing up the slide is just as important as sliding down.
  • Getting muddy outside and rediscovering nature is imperative.
  • That play is serious business and so much more.
  • Inside Play To Live: Life Skills and Joy Through The Natural Talent To Play you'll read about case studies and reports followed by tips, tricks, and information to help you. If you would like to rediscover what it means to play, then grab a copy of Play To Live right now!
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Author Interview -

Your career has been focused on creating, designing and implementing recreational programming. What was your journey like to embrace this career?

My first job in recreation was when I was 14, working the scoreboard for recreation basketball league games. From there, I've always stayed involved in recreation: from working summer camps to organizing sports leagues. I always found it very rewarding. After all, my job is to make sure people have fun! After participating in a program, they always leave happy, with a smile on their face, and energized. What's better than that?!

When and where did the catalyst come from to take your experiences and write a book on the importance of play?

Play is an important part of recreation, and it's simple. It's easy to play. However many times, we make it much more difficult than we have to. While I want people to come to my recreation programs, I want people to feel empowered to play on their own. We all have the natural talent to play, we just have to unleash it!

I am an ambassador for the US Play Coalition, and seeing people's fantastic work in the play space was a motivating factor. I wanted to share my experiences and knowledge on how people can play and gain all the life skills and joy that comes from simply being playful.

What was the experience like to write this first book and how did writing process work for you? Do you schedule a time every day, work madly when inspiration hits or ?

In the recreation world, the work schedule is always varying and changing. It never gets boring! But it made it difficult to keep to a writing schedule. Whenever I had an idea, I made sure to put it in my phone to research further or expand upon when I had some free time.

What did you enjoy most about the writing/publishing process? What felt most like a chore to get through?

In my book, I write tell stories from some great play initiatives. Researching those and listening to people's pride and passion about their successful play projects was really fun. There really is some great play work happening across the country.

Editing was probably most like a chore. You can keep editing, keep revising, keep making some changes, and you'll probably never be 100% satisfied. However, at some point, you just have to call it done - otherwise your thoughts and message will never get out to the readers.

You are also a speaker. Does this book cover or compliment what you share from the stage?

Yes, this book compliments some of my talks. I give talks on how we can make our communities more playful and the roles adults can "play" in facilitating play for children. This book gives tips for both: how we can live more playfully ourselves and how we can make our communities more playful for children, so they, especially, can reap the benefits of play.

What would you like readers to know about you away from your work on stage and at rec centres? What do you like to do in your downtime?

I like to play golf when I'm not working or speaking. It is a fun and relaxing (unless you're playing poorly!) sport that gets you outside and immersed in nature. I also like to travel and explore new places

What is the single most important thing you hope readers take away from your book Play to Live?

I think the most important thing is in the subtitle: "the natural talent to play." We all have that natural talent, but sometimes as we grow older, the talent to play becomes hidden. Fortunately, we can all unleash that talent and gain the benefits and happiness of playing and living playfully.

Do you have any new books in the planning or writing stage?

One idea I have is examining how playgrounds and playful spaces enhance the communities they are in. These are often focal points of communities and I am interested in exploring how these spaces directly improve the lives of the people who live in that community.

Would love your favourite quote on the importance of play if you have one.

The chapters in my book all start with a favorite quote of mine about play, but I'll share one here:
"We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw

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Meet the Author - 

Brian is a life-long "parks and rec kid." Now, he is a parks and recreation professional.

Brian has created, designed, and implemented transformational recreational programming for thousands of residents. Through his work as a park and recreation professional, Brian helps people play and find their natural talent to play.

He believes everyone has that talent, but it is sometimes hard to find, or even suppressed in today's society. ​ Fortunately, play at its most basic level is easy, fun, healthy, and desirable. That playful talent just needs to be unleashed.

Brian has helped thousands of people find their natural talent to play and become happier and healthier people through the power of play.

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