KOOP's mission is to provide meaningful play experiences all around our community thereby cultivating a culture that values and expands on play opportunities for children and youth.
This means we're doing the work of creating space where play is the priority and offering rich and vibrant programs all around Chambana & beyond. It also means we're also equipping parents, caregivers and other professionals with what they need to offer quality play provision.
KOOP has a community- based vision which means the needs of the community are going to dictate where we go and what we do-- always! We also dream about a future location where we can invite the community to gather to be in nature, to play freely, to work on the wi-fi while their kids play and where their team can come to learn more. This vision is the result of years of fine-tuning and in response to what we see as a need and an opportunity to serve the community best. As always, these visions only come to pass with a large team at our backs and by our sides.
Children's play is a natural, instinctive drive.
Children are propelled to explore and interact with the physical world around them.
KOOP Adventure Play, originally KOOP- Kid Owned & Operated Play, began in 2015 offering free community pop-ups. These initial events were well- received by the community and soon day camps, community conversations and an official non-profit status followed.
In 2016, KOOP's director partnered with University Primary School and formed a daily adventure play after school program at University Primary School, multiple weeks of adventure play summer camp and the team of playworkers at University Primary School continued to grow, as did their understanding and execution of playwork philosophy. We're so proud that University Primary School has adopted our philosophy and allowed a space for Kelsey to stay in touch with daily playwork practice while also growing KOOP Adventure Play in the local, regional, and global community.
KOOP hosted the first Prioritizing Play Conference in 2018 alongside mentors and trainers Morgan and Suzanna at Pop-Up Adventure Play. This established KOOP as a regional and national resource for this work of play provision, advocacy for children's rights and ultimately a well- respected resource for meaningful play experiences for children and support for parents. Our second Prioritizing Play Conference in 2020 was a virtual 7-week experience bringing together a global community of playwork-curious folks and holding space for reviewing the various ways we must relate to play- the theme of the conference experience.
KOOP works with children in various settings through a variety of programming options like recess, after school, community gatherings or camps. KOOP also works with and supports adults as they seek to rediscover play and offer better play opportunities to the children in their care, now training up playworkers. You'll find KOOP everywhere from your public library to your local schools; from our own camps to PTA and professional development talks, and you can still follow us all around the area for free pop- up adventure play events-- still a local favorite! And you can watch University Primary School if you'd like to experience our programs firsthand.
Benefits of Child-Directed Play
KOOP adventure playground is suitable for children of all ages. Children play under the supervision of playworkers but not through their direction. Children of different ages and diverse backgrounds come together in a shared space where they may freely interact with one another and with nature learning on their own how to work together to problem solve, overcome obstacles, collaborate, and team build. This helps develop a childs sense of community and a space for peer learning.
Play is vital to childhood development. Through play, the children seek answers to questions, realizing their own aims and developing their sense of self. Research shows that children learn best when they are invested in what they are learning or doing. KOOP allows children to move around their play space freely and choose what to explore and what to do. Children then take ownership of their own learning, encouraging self expression, spurring innovation and boosting confidence in their ability to asses and take calculated risks and therefore take responsibility for their actions.
We try our best to offer participants variety of playable spaces including: challenging play structures and features; quiet ‘chill-out’ areas; wild nature and planted areas; water and sand play. We work hard to secure locations where there are also changes of level in landscaping features as well as in built structures by the children. This kind of space encourages movement and allows children to develop fine and gross motor skills while being in nature.
“[Children have a natural] zest for life,
a drive to discover and create and re-create,
a passion for discovery and invention to master the world, understand it,
and experience it at first hand,
to push the boundaries of the known and find out the flavor of newness.
Watch children at play and you will see this in action.”
Playworking allows children to play freely without having to listen or behave according to the ideas and set ways of adults and the adult society. Playworkers choose to intervene as little as possible so the child can exercise his right to be a child and play- based on his own interests and his own motivations unadulterated. The playworker must trust the "innate wisdom of children" (The Playwork Primer) and allow them to play so that the children themselves can integrate their internal and external worlds. The interference of an adult will take these magical opportunities away from the child's growth, development, and basic extinct (as we know, even young animals play). We try to let them keep that so they can be themselves and do by themselves, without unnecessary pressures.
Loose Parts Theory
"Loose parts allow children to take an object that has a loosely defined purpose and use it to be anything that they want for their playing. Thus a cardboard box can be a den or a car or an airplane, a bed or a tortoise shell. Loose parts do exactly the opposite of battery powered toys that require the child only to push a button to send the toy into an ecstasy of beeping and flashing and tinny music. Such toys do the playing while the child is reduced to the passive role of an audience. Play itself, with these toys, is turned into a space of exclusion for children. They’re kept outside the play circle, which is dominated by the moving toy. Loose parts liberate the imagination and creativity of the playing children and allow them to master the world around them in ever-changing ways and communicate more effectively through their playing". (Playwork Primer).