Right To Play,  founded in 2000 by Olympian Johann Olav Koss (this year’s recipient of the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership), has spent the last decade empowering children through play in more than 20 countries all over the world. But the Canadian-based organization has never established a foothold in its neighbor to the South.

Until now.

In January, Koss and his organization announced the development of Play at the Core:  The Right to Play New York City Play-based Early Learning Program. 

This partnership with the New York City Department of Education is Right To Play’s first domestic program in the United States. Soon the program will be addressing the achievement gap among low-income families in the Bronx. Currently, educators are being trained to bring Right To Play’s message of  of building life skills to urban youth through the power of play.

Work and play might be treated as mutually exclusive areas for adults, but current research from the child development arena demonstrates how the two are interconnected. Play is crucial to learning and identity development in young children: This offers a channel through which they receive early impressions of teamwork and other people’s responses to them.

For Sophia Pappas, executive director of the Office of Early Childhood Education in New York City’s Department of Education, that means that the new partnership with Right 2 Play is nothing less than a golden opportunity to help local children.

The partnership will support “strengthening problem-solving skills of young learners,” Pappas says, “so that children at the pre-kindergarten age level are positioned to be successful learners in later years.”

According to the organization,

Play at the Core will continue to work with over 70 trainees through bi-monthly school/CBO visits, additional training days throughout the spring of 2013, and other activities to convene the cohort and share best practices as well as lessons learned.



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