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 center helps children grow

The Center for the Study of Leisure and Play focuses on promoting a well-balanced lifestyle that incorporates leisure time as a combatant against stress.

In fact, the faculty and students in the department of recreation and tourism management extension center are engaged in extensive work in the community throughout the year funded by CSUN students.

The center is funded primarily through grants, donations and CSUN tuition payments.

“Student tuitions fees provide the financial support for the center, which first passed through the Associated Students and Instructionally Related Activities account and eventually reach the center and support Play Day,” said Dr. Craig Finney, chair of the department of RTM and director of the center.

Finney said most students are not aware their tuition fees are directly given back to the community.

The center’s most extensive research is on play and childhood development. Finney said simulating a play environment is essential to developing synapses in the brain. Synapses, when linked together, allow the brain to process information.

The center provides those links for elementary students through the development of play environments during Play Day.

The center provides services that include research on the study of leisure and play, professional publications and community service initiatives. One of the center’s standout community service initiatives includes the center’s semi-annual Play Day.

Each semester, with the help of 50 to 100 students enrolled in the Dynamics of Early Childhood Play course, students and faculty of the center have developed and facilitated play environments at an Oxnard area elementary school for the past 10 years.

Play Day is an integrated teaching style that uses the application of imagination and development of play environments created by students to elicit literacy through play.

Students spend the semester in the course understanding theories and functions of play on human development.

They then construct a play environment around a central literary theme. In the past, themes have been derived from Dr. Seuss and Rainbow Fish.

Before Play Day, the kids spend the semester on literary work in school.

Each semester, when most classes are preparing for finals, the students of RTM 305 are making their way to a Ventura county elementary school for four hours of play.

During this time, students use the application learned in class to link literacy to play. The linkage is facilitated by the actual construction of a set and accompanies props derived from that semester’s literary theme, Finney said.

The a thousand students in kindergarten through fifth grade are quite different from the students of CSUN, said Finney.

“Thirty-three to 35 percent of the students come from migrant farming families, who often have to repeat grades when traveling between here and Mexico, while 99 percent of the students are on the federal breakfast and lunch program,” said Finney.

In recent years, the underprivileged school has rid the school curriculum of arts and music in an effort to boost low academic scores.

Dr. Dianne Philibosian, a former instructor, said the school is an example of the crisis in education.

“Children are getting left behind because there isn’t a emphasis on play and the integration of learning,” said Philibosian.

Philibosian said it was discovered through the play that children who imagined early in life became great problem solvers.

Joe Gurney, a senior RTM major, has volunteered to be this semester’s event manager.

Gurney said this course was one of the best courses he has taken at CSUN and it could be applied to any field of study.

“You should always have some time for leisure,” said Gurney.

Another former student of RTM 305, Lyssa Adams, is a senior child development major who took the course during the spring 2007. Like Gurney, Adams said she couldn’t resist volunteering her time to another Play Day after the first time.

“When you see the kids’ faces, it’s just all excitement,” said Adams.

Adams said the Play Day and the class broadened her horizon and allowed her to see how much she could do to help the kids.

Despite the lack of publicity for the center and the correlating course of 305, Finney said the word-of-mouth advertising has led the sections to fill up.

“We have students begging to be volunteers,” said Philibosian.

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