WordPLAY: Introduction to Healthy Play

Jen Goeres & Jen Smith | October 19, 2020

Workshop attendees will be some of the first to experience the power of Healthy Play! This program was just launched in Canada earlier this year, expanding its roots after 30+ years of success in the United States.

We, the facilitators, are not Certified Play Therapists (yet!), but have worked with children our entire lives and have 5 children of our own between us! We believe in the value of play therapy and its contribution to an individual’s holistic well being.

We have seen first-hand, the power of Healthy Play when consistently implemented in recreation programs. We were so moved by the positive impact it had on the children in our programs, that we wanted more. This led us to follow our passion and start our own business called WordPLAY Consulting.

WordPLAY connects innovative, inspiring content and the power of play to create lasting positive change. WordPLAY is the only Canadian provider of Healthy Play and is an approved professional development provider with Alberta Children’s Services – Child Care Funding Program and the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta.

For children, play is critical to their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. It is also how children begin forming supportive relationships, building core life skills and reduce stress in their lives.

For many of us who work with or have children in our lives, we know, now more than ever, that children need our support to help develop these critical skills to be resilient and successful in our world today. Play is the most natural way children learn. Play gives children repetitive opportunities to make positive changes. This is why Healthy
Play is such a powerful tool – it teaches children through fun, intentional play experiences.

Understanding that quality play experiences can be transformational, Spencer Gorin and Charlie Steffens first developed the Healthy Play concepts over 30 years ago working in acute mental health care programming for children and adolescents. They quickly observed that the social emotional learning taking place in the program transferred into other areas of their lives, showing significant growth and positive changes. The program was created and was then successfully implemented into school
boards across the United States.

Based on play therapy concepts and early childhood cognitive research, Healthy Play offers practical, simple, and fun techniques that foster the Healthy Play 8:

  1. Fostering social-emotional learning
  2. Creating positive connections
  3. Strengthening core life skills
  4. Building resiliency
  5. Maximizing participation
  6. Increasing physical activity
  7. Managing behaviour challenges
  8. Developing a sense of community

Research has found that when the Healthy Play program is consistently implemented and reinforced, there is, on average, a 70% reduction in behavioural challenges, and significant growth in empathy and conflict resolution skills. Who wouldn’t want to see a 70% reduction in behavioural challenges?! Furthermore, Healthy Play gives the power back to children to solve their own problems (instead of relying on adults to do this) and invites children to be part of a collective healing process to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all. Healthy Play increases children’s engagement and participation, which helps reduce burnout we often see in teachers, parents, and professionals.

We hope you can join us to learn more about this incredible play-based character education program that can be applied in clinical practice, educational institutions, community programs, and at home to create an optimum learning environment for children.

Together we will explore the Healthy Play Philosophy and Rules including the reason why children play and the most important part of any game or activity. We will give you an opportunity to participate in some games that can be played independently, in small cohorts or at home, and eventually, with larger groups in clinical practices, educational institutions, and community programs.

We will also be discussing inclusive game modifications and alignments with COVID-19 protocols through group activities, videos, and role modelling that will give you a better understanding of how you can use Healthy Play the very next day with the children you are connecting with.


Jen Goeres, B.Kin., B.Ed., WordPLAY Consulting Founder, Canadian Healthy Play Facilitator
Jen Smith, B.A., WordPLAY Consultant, Canadian Healthy Play Facilitator
Speakers for the 2020 November Online Children’s Mental Health Conference

Join us for our upcoming annual Children’s Mental Health Conference via online format airing November 20-22, 2020!

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