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Get Ready for the Longest Day of Play

Get Ready for the Longest Day of Play

Sasha Bush

Ashland Beacon

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers

Did you know that one of the primary benefits of unstructured play is its ability to nurture creativity and imagination in the young minds of children? When left to come up with their own entertainment, children often create some of the unique games, stories and scenarios. Whether they’re building elaborate forts out of blankets and sofa cushions, pretending to be their favorite superheroes, or inventing new and fantastical creatures, the importance of unstructured play encourages children to think outside of the box and develop their own unique ideas. This can lead to children building confidence in their own decision-making abilities.

Sadly, “play” seems to have become a thing of the past. In today’s era, children spend more time staring at a TV screen or playing on a phone than they do playing outdoors, with toys or with friends. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages eight to 10 spend an average of six hours per day in front of a screen; children ages 11 to 14 spend an average of nine hours per day in front of a screen, and youth ages 15 to 18 spend an average of seven-and-a-half hours per day in front of a screen. With so much time spent staring at a screen, there is very little room for children to experience the many benefits of unstructured play and develop their imaginations. That’s why many local youth resource centers, businesses, community partners, and volunteers have once again teamed up for the area's annual “Longest Day of Play” celebrations.

On Saturday, June 20, from noon to 4 p.m., you can head out to Central Park to celebrate the first official day of summer by soaking up every ounce of sunlight that the day has to offer. The Ashland Independent, Boyd County and Fairview School District Family Resource and Youth Services Centers will be hosting the Longest Day of Play this year. Brittany Brown, Program Coordinator for the Ashland Independent Schools, shared, “The Longest Day of Play is an initiative to help residents become more physically active, by encouraging participation in unstructured play. We are encouraging families to get outdoors with their friends, family and community to celebrate the summer solstice in the best way possible — PLAY! We will be set up around Central Park, and we are inviting community partners, sports teams, etc. to help us out by setting up a table or activity (corn hole, sack race, etc.) to do with families as they walk around the park!”

Amanda Lawson-Heatherington, AYBSC Program Liaison at Paul G. Blazer High School, shared that every table set up will offer a different family-friendly activity and that children will be given a “passport” at the start of their journey, which will take place around Crabbe Elementary School. Children can then take their passports around to each table and have them stamped as they complete each activity. This event is entirely free to the public and promises to be a lot of fun that the entire family can enjoy.

Children of all ages can enjoy activities such as chalk walk, ring toss, yard games, goody bags, Peanut the Clown, cotton candy, inflatables, fire trucks, ball toss, lawn darts, ladder toss, cornhole, dance-offs, jump ropes, DIY pocket first aid kits, hula hoops, bubbles, ax throwing, health information tables, teddy care checkups, ring toss, water squirter painting, duck pond with prizes, food trucks, giveaways and more!


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