The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Leisure and play center encourages children’s play

Imagine standing atop a 30-foot-high wooden pole that sways with every change in the wind, then leaping to catch a ring that’s 12 feet above, trusting that those below won’t let them fall.

This type of experience is all in a day’s work for the CSUN Center for the Study of Leisure and Play through the Department of Recreation and Tourism Management.

“We at the center provide nonacademic activities and events to the CSUN community as well as to the outside community,” said Craig Finney, department chair.

We’re an extension that provides learning opportunities that are not classroom-based.”

The wooden pole is part of the department’s High Ropes Challenge Course. Students are attached to safety harnesses t in the hands of their fellow classmates. The student must trust that with any slip, classmates will be there to stop them from hitting the ground, thus establishing both teamwork and trust.

“This is a lesson that you can learn by taking a class for 15 weeks in order for it to transpire. Or you can learn it within hours using the ropes,” Finney said.

Some of the benefits of enrolling in the High Ropes Challenge course include attaining self-confidence, learning to work with a team, overcoming fears, increasing leadership effectiveness, as described in a pamphlet.

The center has provided many different opportunities to both the CSUN community and to those outside the community to experience these life lessons. Anyone can sign up to participate in the High Ropes Challenge course; there is a business group in Japan that comes to campus every year to use the course for its associates. The price of the course is $40 for four hours and $80 for eight hours.

Showing members of the community how important recreational activities are to the growth and development of individuals is what the center primarily concentrates on.

The center has also created Play Day, which happens twice a year and shares all the lessons learned about the importance of a good play environment with the community.

“Any place that will allow pretend play to take place is an effective play environment,” Finney said. “Students learn how to create effective play environments and then take them to Oxnard where more than 1,000 children play with them.”

The play environments the students create are instructed and supervised by Dianne L. Philibosian. For more than 35 years, she has taught students how to create these play environments. The importance of play in children is stressed within the class.

“Play is the single most important activity that children can do to promote their development,” Philibosian said.

As we go from children to adults, we can use play to cope with stressful things that happen in our lives.”

The play environments are based on themes from books. They are constructed in a manner similar to sets that are seen in plays. Play Day is on Nov. 30 this year and Dr. Seuss’ work was chosen as the theme, so the environments that are created will incorporate all of the books written by the legendary author.

Once the environments are constructed, they are taken to Oxnard, where children of migrant workers are able to experience the play environments. More than 1,000 children enjoy the different areas of Play Day. There are no time limits to any particular area, and free range imagination is encouraged.

“It’s one of the most exciting opportunities our students have and a tremendous opportunity for the community,” Philibosian said. “Play Day is the highlight of their semester. Many graduating students say it’s the highlight of their career.”

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