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“The Land” sparks fascinating conversation on play

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"This space is built on the notion that kids empower themselves when they learn to manage risks on their own."

On a Monday night, as the temperature dipped below freezing, dozens of Northeastern University students filed into a large lecture hall in West Village F. Piling slices of fresh bread, goat cheese, and spicy hummus onto plates, students took their seats and anxiously waited for this adventure play documentary to begin. The film ran approximately 35 minutes, but packed a powerful message in that short amount of time. It spotlighted a playground in Welsh, a unique place where children come to explore and create. At The Land, children can come to experience risk taking in a free setting. Kids can build fires, climb trees, and use tools. This space is built on the notion that kids empower themselves when they learn to manage risks on their own. After the documentary, four panelists (Anna Housley Juster Ph.D, Child Development & Play Consultant, Wheelock College; Erin Davis, filmmaker; Peter Gray Ph.D, Research Professor, Dept. of Psychology, Boston College and author of Free to Learn; Marisa Luse, Campus Engagement Coordinator and Special Assistant to the Director of Neighborhood Partnerships and Programs, Northeastern University) provided commentary through thought the sharing of thought provoking ideas, opinions, and research, all moderated by Emily Mann. For a little over an hour, audience members discussed and debated themes of child play, playground management, and risk vs. reward. It seemed as if everyone went home that night with something to chew on.

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